Did you know that Malaysia is one of the most dangerous countries in Southeast Asia in 2018, topping the charts as the country with the highest crime index?
Although incidences such as snatch theft and robbery can strike anyone at any time, you may be more susceptible to crime as a student, given that you may not always be aware of your surroundings (tired minds, even more tired bodies, anyone?).
To avoid being a victim of crime, here are 10 ways on how you can stay safe at university.
#1. Don’t walk alone
Studying late in your college library or going for an early morning jog?
Try not to do this alone. People who travel in groups are less likely to be assaulted compared to those who are alone, regardless if you’re male or female.
If you feel like you need to take a walk at night after a long day of studying, it’s best to walk with a group of 3 or more people so that once you’re safely in your car or at your dorm room, your friends don’t have to walk back alone either.
#2. When you see something, say something
Today’s smartphone culture has us recording everything and anything as long as it goes viral on social media. Unfortunately, this has also turned us into bystanders who would rather watch prevailing issues than try to solve them. The worst is to assume someone has done something about it while you play “innocent bystander”.
Instead of waiting for something to happen or for someone else to help, report anything that you think is suspicious within campus, even if you’re not able to confirm anything right away. As they say, “It’s better to be safe than sorry”.
#3. Stay aware of your surroundings
Don’t be too engrossed in your phone or have earphones on with the music on full blast, as this will distract you and make you an easy target for robbers or snatch thieves.
If you’re in an unfamiliar place, it pays to be vigilant at all times, particularly if you’re travelling alone at night. Consider putting away your devices and aim to arrive at your destination safely — your social media feed isn’t as important as your safety. Besides, your phone is practically a lighthouse that guides muggers toward you.
#4. Make good use of locks
To ensure the safety of your belongings, protect your valuables by using locks and keep them out of sight in drawers or cupboards when you’re not in your hostel residences or rented room. Leaving your laptop or valuables visible through the window can increase the chances of opportunistic thieves stealing your property.
In addition, be sure to lock up and close your window every time you leave your place!
#5. Familiarise yourself with your campus surroundings
Whether your university campus spans acres of land or covers just a few blocks, make it a point to know your campus surroundings intimately, such as notable landmarks and where the campus security office is located.
Once you know your campus grounds inside out, not only will you not get lost, but you’ll also know where to run to should you ever find yourself in a spot of trouble.
#6. Find out where the emergency systems are
Most campuses have emergency call buttons or phones for students (and lecturers) to utilise in the event of an emergency. They are usually located in common areas or on designated pillars in parking lots.
Keep an eye out for these emergency systems so that you know where you can call for help when the need arises.
#7. Carry emergency cash
Having some spare cash on you can come in handy in case you find yourself in places that only accept cash (e.g. when you’re stranded at the mamak after being a victim of snatch theft or when your phone battery dies on you with no access to the Grab app).
If you’re ever stuck in a situation where your credit or debit cards don’t work, having extra cash can be a lifesaver. Just remember not to spend it when shopping for an ‘emergency’ dress!
#8. Store emergency contacts on your phone
If you are pressed for time during an emergency, most smartphones can bypass your passcode and lock screen, allowing you to access your emergency contacts. This allows you to take action faster during urgent situations.
Pre-programme your emergency contacts to list people who you know will answer your phone call and drop everything at a moment’s notice to come to your aid. This includes your family members and a few reliable friends.
#9. Party responsibly
Kicking back and enjoying a party doesn’t have to mean drinking till you’re too drunk to function.
In fact, you can still have fun and be safe at the same time. All you need to do is drink at a slow pace and consume water while you’re drinking. You should also watch your glass at all times and never accept drinks from strangers to avoid people spiking your drink. And while drinking games may seem like harmless fun, alcohol poisoning is very real and may lead to death if not controlled.
On top of that, don’t forget to assign a responsible friend (who doesn’t feel like drinking on that day) to be your designated driver. Just ensure you return the favour the next time around!
#10. Consider other protective measures
We hope you will never have to use such measures in your lifetime, but there is no harm in being prepared for the worst.
Try stashing pepper spray or a loud whistle in your bag as these tools could potentially save your life should you find yourself in an unwanted situation. Alternatively, you could enrol in a few self-defence classes to protect yourself if you were in a situation where someone was trying to harm you.
Even if you feel your college campus is secure and that there’s nothing you need to worry about, it still doesn’t hurt to take extra safety precautions. So follow these tips and stay safe!