Off-Campus Housing Safety
The Tampa metropolitan area are a blend of urban, suburban and rural environments in close proximity to one another. Tampa area residents are known for being welcoming and hospitable, and the city and its surrounding communities are generally regarded as safe and welcoming considering the size of the greater metro area. However, all students must recognize that living off-campus means it is their personal responsibility to look out for their own safety. Below are just some of the necessary safety precautions that may lessen the likelihood of becoming a victim, as provided by the Lindsey M. Bonistall Foundation:
1. Trust your instincts and don’t worry about overreacting. You are better safe than sorry.
2. Know where to get crime alerts and safety information for off-campus housing. Schools are not obligated by law to report crimes against students in off campus areas so information on school-related crime statistics may be misleading. Some schools offer off-campus information on their websites. Others have organizations and/or services that are specifically designed to assist students who live off campus. Some schools only offer limited services and support for off-campus residents and, in these cases, a local police department or government agency is the better resource for off-campus information.
3. Do not walk alone after dark. Contact a friend or your school’s escort service to take you where you need to go. These services will often assist students who live off-campus.
4. Take a self-defense class.
5. When driving, keep your doors locked and park in well-lit areas.
6. Don’t walk around alone when intoxicated.
7. Walk in well-lit areas and stay away from alleys, entryways and bushes where someone could be hiding.
8. Do not walk or jog alone after dark.
9. Do not wear earphones or play music so loudly that you are unaware of your surroundings.
10. Obtain a whistle and carry it with you at all times. Make sure to keep it in your hands when walking alone.
11. If someone is following you on foot, cross the street, change directions or vary your pace.
12. If confronted, make a scene, and make lots of noise to draw attention to yourself and the other person.
13. If someone is following you in a car, turn around and walk in the opposite direction. If that person persists, record the license number and call the Police immediately. Get to an area where there are other people around.
14. Avoid short cuts. Walk where there are other people present.
15. Have your keys ready before you reach the door.
16. Avoid entering elevators with strangers. When this is unavoidable, stand by the control panel and if confronted in a threatening way, push the emergency alarm and all the floor buttons. Don’t press the stop button.
17. Don’t hold the door open for a stranger attempting to enter the building, even if it seems rude. Ask them to identify themselves.
18. Post the local police and fire departments’ numbers by every phone, near the refrigerator and/or program them into your cell phone.
19. Label your emergency contacts in your cell phone or by your home phone as ICE (In Case of Emergency), and, in the event of an emergency, officials will know whom to contact for important personal or medical information.