While away at college, your dorm room or apartment has likely become your sanctuary. It's more than just a place to stay - your dorm becomes your home. You already clean up your space and probably have it decorated with cute pillows, posters, and bulletin boards, but what you might not think about is the fact that this space is now one of your most important responsibilities.
This seems obvious (one of those "duh, of course my apartment is important" moments), but I know that last year I got caught up in the hype of having my own place and inviting friends over... sometimes to my detriment, as I acted foolishly.
Because I think it's really important, I've decided to put together this list of safety tips that you should always remember when living in a dorm or apartment:
1. Lock Your Door
I know. It's like Rule #1. But I am so bad about this, and I'm ashamed to admit that laziness sometimes clouded my common sense. Last year my dorm had doors that didn't automatically lock, and on those occasions when I would be running late, or just going to someone else's room, or I knew my roommate would come home in the next 15 minutes, I chose not to lock my door. Sometimes I genuinely forgot, but most of the time I didn't think it was a big deal. I was wrong.
I'm lucky it didn't happen to me, but dorm room and apartment burglaries are all too common. Not locking your door could seem convenient (or maybe I'm really the only one this naively trusting), but is it convenient to have to fill out a police report and admit that the burglary is partially your fault? A locked door might not keep every thief away, but it can definitely stop most.
Locking your door is even more important when you look beyond burglaries and think about the fact that you are essentially inviting anyone to enter your room and perhaps wait for you to get home. It sounds like an episode of 20/20, but it happens and I never stopped to think that it could happen to me, my roommate, or friends.
2. Blow Out Candles & Unplug Appliances
Alright, another obvious one. But fire safety comes first, right? While everyone knows that you shouldn't leave an unattended candle or keep your straightener on throughout the day, it's easy to simply forget and leave the house.
By being more aware of the risk, you will be more inclined to remember these small but important details. Blow out your candles and make sure that they're actually out. Turn off your heated appliances, and unplug them just for good measure. A faulty circuit or tipped over candle could cause a fire.
3. Don't Leave Your Belongings Unattended
This rule doesn't apply directly to inside your dorm, but goes along with staying safe and locking your door. It's tempting to leave your laptop at the library while you run to the coffee shop across the street, but people steal and can do so discreetly.
You might feel better when you ask a kind-looking stranger if they can watch your stuff, but I have been guilty of assuring someone I will look over their belongings, then forgetting about it once they have been gone for more than 10 minutes. At the end of the day, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on your belongings.
As inconvenient as it is, pack up your stuff and take it with you. Just a few days ago someone's laptop was stolen in my apartment parking garage because they left it in an unlocked car. Always remember that the safest place is on your person.
What do you think?
Despite how obvious these tips may seem, they really are important... especially if you are scatter-brained like me. You might be thinking "why wouldn't she have locked her door?" or "who leaves a lit candle out?" but a lot of times occasional forgetfulness leads to bad habits, and in turn a dorm room emergency.
If you have any tips or suggestions of your own, leave them in the comments. Remember to keep your apartment safe this semester!