Away-from-home: Security for Students!

Stay Secure whilst you’re Studying away from Home

Whether you are starting your first year at university or returning for another year of hard work, studying and let’s be honest, partying! It’s important to ensure that you take all the necessary precautions to stay secure in your student accommodation.

Starting or returning to university can be an exciting time for anyone and it’s not unusual for important tasks to get overlooked especially when it comes to being secure in your new accommodation, this may be the first time you have lived away from home or have lived in a shared house/flat.

It’s important to make sure you student accommodation is secure, as student housing is classed as an easy target for burglars and the 16-24 age group is considered to be the most vulnerable to burglary. This is because burglars know that a house containing multiple students will also contain multiple high value items such as laptops, tablets, and TVs. Student houses are also known for being lax on the home security front, so don’t let that be you!

Tips to stay secure whilst you’re studying

Leaving home to attend university is an exciting and possibly stressful time. The security of yourself and your possessions might not cross your mind when dealing with all the other things that need doing.

For you and your parent’s peace of mind it is definitely worth evaluating the security of your new accommodation and taking any necessary precautions to protect you and your fellow housemates from a break-in.

Follow these simple steps to help you stay secure during your time at university:

  • Check the lock on your front door and bedroom door when moving in.
  • If you notice the lock is faulty alert campus staff or your landlord immediately so that it can be replaced as soon as possible. Ensure a lock that adheres to any home insurance policies is used as failure to do so could run the risk of invalidating yours or your landlord’s policy.
  • Always lock your doors and windows even if you are just popping out.
  • Ask your parents to check whether their home insurance policy covers student contents.
  • Mark any valuables you take to university with you such as laptops, tablets, or TVs with a UV pen. You can also register them on immobilise.com, which could increase the potential of your items being returned to you if ever stolen!

Whilst you are off making memories and creating new experiences, we’ve put together some tips for you to remember to keep you safe and help you enjoy your fresher’s week!

1. Explore the campus and surrounding areas

So, you’ve moved in and met your housemates, now what? It’s worth taking the time to get to know the local area. Have a walk round, gaining a better sense of your surrounding area will be really beneficial to keeping yourself safe. Take note of any landmarks that you can use to orientate yourself, these can be large trees, unusual buildings or even another house’s garden. These might come in handy if you find yourself struggling to find your way home in the dark one evening.

2. Travel in packs

Everybody knows that there is safety in numbers, this is particularly true for ladies and those new to the area. Not only will being in a group help you make friendships and other connections, but it can also keep you safe. This is definitely the case for those who have been out drinking and find themselves in need of help getting home, a large group can watch each other’s backs. Not only that, if you share a taxi home with a group then you won’t need to pay as much!

 

3. Know how you can get home

Have a look at the transport options available in your new city; know where taxi ranks and bus stops might be for you to get home. Whenever you go out, whether it’s on a night out or just down to the shops knowing how you could get home will always keep you safer and more alert.

A top tip for fresher’s parties is to program a taxi service number into your phone before you go out so that you don’t have to worry about trying to find a taxi or calling round. You can easily get it up on your phone and get home safely. If you know what time you will be leaving, you can always book one in advance too. Booking a taxi in advance is usually safer as there will be a record of your journey, what driver took you and where you went to and from. If you get in a random taxi you find in a rank, you may not know who the company is or who is driving you.

 

4. Eat plenty and know your limits

There will undoubtedly be some alcohol related activities throughout fresher’s week; we won’t be advising you not to drink, but rather to drink safely!

To begin, make sure you consume enough food throughout your day and most importantly before attending any gatherings or events. Make sure you also know your limitations by trying to drink a glass of water between every alcoholic drink; eventually, make sure you know when to stop.

Ensuring you drink safely can start in the hours before you even start drinking, one bit of advice is to make sure you eat enough during the day, drinking on an empty stomach can be dangerous and cause you to become unwell.

 

5. Keep an eye on your drink

Pubs and clubs can quickly become busy and overcrowded. You need to be vigilant with your drink, don’t leave it unattended, or don’t drink it if it’s been out of your site for any length of time. If you have any suspicion that your drink has been spiked, you shouldn’t drink it and leave the pub or cub immediately.

The basic things to remember with drinks on a night out are:

  • Don’t accept a drink that you haven’t seen be made
  • Don’t accept a drink from a stranger
  • When you put down your drink, it’s best not to pick it up again
  • Place a napkin or coaster over your drink to stop ‘drive by’ spiking

 

6. Make sure your phone is fully charged

Our phones may be our main line of help nowadays. You’ll undoubtedly use yours to capture your night and document it, text your new pals, and take some great shots! Before leaving the house, make sure your phone is fully charged and that your data is working. You may also need to call a cab, get an address, and check in with whoever you were with at night, so be prepared!

 

7. Student Accommodation Security

Conventionally, you’re sharing a house or flat with people you’ve never met before, using the same kitchen and potentially bathroom with your rooms being next to each other. So, it’s always best to be safe than sorry! The best practice is not only to avoid leaving any of your valuables visible to passers-by, but also to make sure you constantly lock your bedroom doors and windows whenever you leave your room and most importantly leave the house. You should also never let strangers into student halls for your security reasons; the courteous thing to do would be to hold the door open for someone behind you, but you don’t know who you’re letting in and what intentions they may have.

When renting privately, be sure that all of the locks are in good working condition and that the previous renters’ locks have been changed. As soon as you move in, you should inspect the property to ensure that all of the doors, locks, and windows function properly and that there are no noticeable wears and tears.

Don’t leave any spare keys under a door mat or flower pot. By leaving a spare key in an easily discovered hiding place you can run the risk of leaving your student accommodation vulnerable to a break-in. Did you know that over 20% of Britons still leave their set of keys hidden in the garden despite it being a high security risk? You should always choose a secure hiding place for spare keys or leave a key with a trusted neighbour.

 

8. Be Careful with your Car or Bike

Bike are used by teenagers and students more than most, a fact knows by most thieves. They will take any opportunity to steal a bike, no matter how much it’s worth, so don’t make it easy for them by leaving yours unsecure.

Take a look at our other tips for keeping your bike safe.

  • Making sure it is locked every time you park it using D-Locks (they are the best on the market)!
  • Park your bike in a busy and well-lit area, preferably one with CCTV that helps in deterring thieves.
  • If you live in student halls, there should be a place for parking your bike, ask any of the reception team and one shall guide you.
  • If you live in a private student house, make sure you make the lock and bike difficult to move by keeping the gap between them very small.
  • Mark your bike – this helps getting it identified if ever stolen.
  • Take a picture of your bike and add its details to com – this is a national bicycle scheme that helps in bicycle theft prevention.

Not only should you consider protecting your bike against theft but also consider how you can keep yourself safe whilst cycling.

 

9. Car Security

You may take your car to university; however, you’ll probably  struggle to find parking on any campus across the UK. This could lead to you parking on a side street or somewhere else unsafe. However, if you have no choice but to drive to your university lectures then follow our tips to keep your car as secure as possible.

  • Sounds easy but we all tend to forget about it – make sure you lock all your car doors and shut all your windows every time you leave the car.
  • Get all valuables out of sight, which could include your laptop you’re taking to university or an expensive bag etc!
  • Look for a busy place around your university to park there, preferably with CCTV as well.

You could also look to invest in anti-theft devices for your car to help keep it more secure!

 

10. Be Careful with your Deliveries

If you get frequent deliveries in your student house, make sure there is someone inside who can receive it. Deliveries kept outside your door is an indication that someone is not inside the house, and could attract burglars to you, that is if your parcel wasn’t stolen in the first place. What you can do is arrange with your housemates, any of your neighbours to take the parcel in. What we highly recommend is to choose a nearby collection point that many local shops do now and collect it anytime you can!

Whilst in halls, there should normally be burglar alarms, CCTV, and people on the reception desk 24/7, private rentals are not the same. You can in fact, ask the landlord or estate agent about installing one. If you feel it’s too expensive for you and your housemates, ask if you can get a dummy burglar alarm for as little as £8.97 from Amazon.

Simply put, no.  Campus security or university officials should never enter your room without at least 24 hours’ notice unless it’s an emergency like fire or gas leak! Make sure you follow your emails regularly as you will always be notified with any entry to your house, flat, or room through your registered email.

Before you stay in any student accommodation, you should be getting sort of guidance on what can lead to your eviction and your rights to your stay. Such activities that could lead to this is not paying your rent or smoking in your room. However, no one could officially evict you until the court bailiffs enforce it.

Stay Safe at Uni!

Whilst moving out for university can be a very exciting time to explore your life on your own, it does have its gloomy side. As a new student, the area you live in will most probably be somewhere you never visited before, which is why we suggest you carefully consider the above top tips to keep you safe!

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