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campus safety

Other Safety

Better Safe Than Sorry!

August 24, 2018

Now that you’re all on your own in college, without any adult supervision from your parents, it’s best to take whatever steps necessary to stay safe and protect yourself from dangerous situations that could occur at any time of the day. One key thing to remember is that there is no such thing as being too cautious, especially when you’re by yourself.  Below are a few tips and suggestions on what you can do to stay safe around campus.

Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Especially at night. Whether you’re just walking to your car or going for a quick run to the convenience store next door, make sure to look around you and look out for any suspicious individuals or activities that might be lurking around your neighborhood. For many, it is a common thing to have on headphones and listen to music while you’re out and about, however, when you are by yourself, this could put you in a very vulnerable and risky situation. Music can be distracting and can also drown out noises around you, therefore it makes it easier for the bad guys to approach you. Music is good for the soul, but let’s save it for when you’re at a pool party or when you have safely arrived in your car and locked it.

Carry a safety kit.

This doesn’t have to be anything bulky or wildly noticeable. With so many cases of assault and kidnapping nowadays, even in broad daylight, it is smart to carry a personal safety kit with you everywhere you go. The most popular protection item for college students and young adults to carry is pepper spray as it is very affordable and accessible. Another item that’s not very commonly used but is extremely helpful is a personal alarm, which can be used in emergency situations to scare off an attacker and alert assistance. Sabre is a brand of security equipment that offers personal safety kits that include both a pepper spray and a personal alarm which can be easily attached to your keychain. This is a great product to keep in mind when stocking a personal safety kit.

Know how to put out a grease fire.

You’d be surprised how many cases of cooking-related fire incidents occur each year, especially among college students. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking is the number one cause that can lead to home fires. The most obvious and important factor in not having grease fires is to take the necessary steps to prevent them. However, in the case that you have already started one, you can refer to the list below for the basic tips on how to extinguish the fire:

  1. DO NOT use water to put out the fire.
  2. Locate the heat source and turn it off.
  3. Try covering the pan/pot with a baking sheet or any metal lids until it has cooled down.
  4. If the fire is small, you can douse it with baking soda or salt.
  5. If the fire is on a larger scale and not manageable, use a fire extinguisher.

Purchase renters insurance.

As reported by the Clery Act, there is an average of 22,463 annual burglaries reported on college campuses and 2,070 annual fires reported in on-campus student housing (data is from 2017-2018). For unpredictable and unfortunate incidents like these, it is highly recommended that students protect themselves and their personal belongings by looking into purchasing renters insurance. GradGuard offers low deductibles and worldwide property coverage for students at an affordable price. This is in the event that their laptops, bikes, or backpacks get stolen. This applies even if they are just around campus or vacationing outside of the country. To get more information, click here.

With all that said, let’s hope that you don’t run into any unfortunate mishaps. Have fun being a college student, but always do your best to make sure that you are safe no matter where you go!

Other Student Life

Ultimate Campus Commuter: Legs, Lance, or Longboard?

July 13, 2018

College campuses can seem like cities when you are walking across them with the sun beating on your back, or the icy air finding the gap in your layers. You think to yourself, “there has got to be a better way.” Well, you are correct, this innovative product from Ancient Mesopotamia is called the “wheel” and it is here to rescue you from 30-minute walks to class. Now, some people still stand by the leg (origins unknown) as the ultimate campus transportation. Today we will discuss what is the best way to get around campus; walking, biking, or boarding. Some people will use a scooter, but they are the flat-earthers of the university commute debate.

Legs: This method should require little introduction, chances are you have been walking for a little while now, though I tell you, the freshmen look younger every year. Walking is by far the slowest mode of transportation on this list, but it is also the safest. 99% of you will probably be able to get from one end of the campus to the other without hurting yourself, but we all have that one friend. This may be the most tedious method on the list, but how else are you going to tell your kids you walked to school 4 miles, in the snow, uphill both ways, while barefoot. Though this might make your commute longer, it is a great time to catch up on your favorite podcast or audiobook.

Lance: This method is most likely going to be the fastest on this list. You will be able to ride in the bike lanes on the roads, as well speed past the Leg Truthers. The quick turning ability, accessible learning curve (no rules against training wheels), and smooth ride make the bike a very enticing option for campus commuters of all kinds. However, there are plenty of drawbacks to this two-wheeled chariot. You can only go where there are bike racks. Bolt it to fences and lampposts all you want, but don’t be shocked when you come back and it is gone; you parked it illegally. The final drawback is how common bike theft is on campus. If you plan on biking all four years you will want to buy several bikes or purchase a renters insurance policy from GradGuard. That will help you in the likely event it is stolen while you’re taking a test.

Longboard: This is by far the most iconic college mode.  Well, the longboard has blown up, and you can even use it in Minnesota before the frost hits. By far, the hardest to learn of the three, you will struggle to get up and running on the board, but it is well worth it once you are used to it. It’s light, quick, and somewhat agile.  You can bail from it at any second, something you will be doing when you remember it has no brakes. Most professors won’t say anything if you bring it to your desk, eliminating most cases of theft. Just be aware of where you boarding; you will feel every crack in the sidewalk. As fly as you may look, resist the temptation to smolder at that cute classmate because there is no recovering from eating concrete as you run over a rock. You’ll end up running away as fast as you can; pride in ruins.

There are pros and cons to every mode. Each person will value different aspects more than others. Longboards seem to have the best combination for most college students but require the most skill. Whatever you choose, stay safe out there, watch out for Mustangs, and of course be sure you have the proper liability and property coverage through GradGuard.

Other Safety

10 Crucial Campus Safety Tips

August 17, 2017

The yearly return to college each fall is an exciting and significant time for students, but it isn’t entirely without risks. This year, as classes beckon you back to campus, consider what you can do to ensure your own safety as well as that of others. September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month! Here’s a quick list to help you promote safety throughout your time at school.

Walk With Purpose

It’s no secret that anyone who appears to be new in town or otherwise unsure of themselves makes an easy target. Don’t be one of those people! Wherever you go, whether on campus or around town, be sure to walk with confidence and a purpose. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and don’t be afraid to excuse yourself from any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Go with your gut: when it comes to your personal safety, you are your own greatest ally.

Be the Leader of the Pack

It’s an immutable law of nature: there’s safety in numbers. Traveling with friends is one of the best ways to keep yourself protected, particularly if you’re a young woman who may be at greater risk. This is of critical importance when attending social events or traveling in unlit areas. Whether on or off campus, attend events as part of a group and make a pact to look out for one another. Most importantly, never leave someone alone in a vulnerable or uncomfortable situation. If necessary, leave as a group and make other plans instead.

Be Social Media Savvy

Today our digital personas are just as real as our offline lives, and what happens on the Internet doesn’t necessarily stay there. So in the interest of safety, it’s best to keep the personal details to a minimum. First and foremost, be sure to disable location services so that no one can track your whereabouts as you post. Next, think twice before making any posts that include “sensitive” information. Over 80 percent of Internet-initiated crimes – crimes in which the criminal first identifies or tracks a target online – begin through social media, making your profiles excellent resources for any would-be criminals to find your location, daily routines and nearly anything else they might want to know.

“I’ll Be Back”

Whenever you venture out and about, make sure that someone knows where you’re going and when you expect to be back. It only takes a few moments to text friends or family members and inform them of your plans, and if something should ever go wrong, you’ll be glad that you did. If you don’t show up when and where you’re expected, having someone who can check in on you can make all the difference.

Do Your Research

Every campus has resources available to help keep you safe, but they aren’t of much use if you aren’t aware of them. Take some time to find out where your local campus safety or police station is located and be sure to save the phone number. Also familiarize yourself with any other useful services, such as psychological services and wellness centers. It’s also a good idea to locate any emergency phones and automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) on campus. A sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time, and people who are quickly treated with an AED are five times more likely to survive.

Take Advantage of Safety Technology

If you haven’t done so already, sign up to get campus text alerts sent directly to your phone. These alerts will help you stay abreast of any incidents on your campus and will provide valuable safety information if necessary. Additionally, consider downloading a personal safety app to turn your phone into a pocket-sized security guard. There are many options available, all with their own feature sets, but the general idea is the same: these apps provide a way to stay in touch with friends and family, alert them to your plans and location and even send emergency alerts if you’re in need of help.

Lock It Up

There are thousands of burglaries on college campuses each year, and many of them could be prevented with one simple step: lock your doors! Make sure your roommates also understand the importance of keeping your dorm locked up securely, and never give out a key to anyone else. If you live off campus, or in a sorority or fraternity house, consider installing a basic video surveillance system or doorbell camera. If an intruder sees they’re being watched it’s a powerful deterrent, and it’ll also allow you to remotely view any visitors – unwanted or otherwise – right from your phone or mobile device.

Be Skeptical of Unknown Substances

Whether you’re out partying hard or simply looking for some Tylenol for a headache, never trust pills, liquids or other substances unless you know exactly what they are. It’s always better to pass on someone’s offer rather than risk consuming a spiked drink, a dangerous drug or some other foreign substance. Similarly, never put your drink down at a house party or in a bar.

Get Defensive

Many campuses and community centers offer free self-defense classes, and they’re well worth your time. Even if you hope never to need it, knowing how to respond quickly and effectively in the event of a physical threat is potentially life-saving. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female – everyone could use a few tips from the experts, and if you witness potential acts of violence as a bystander this knowledge could help you prevent an assault from occurring.

Equip Yourself

There’s something to be said for preparing for the worst, and that’s exactly what personal defense items accomplish. Whether it’s a small canister of pepper spray or a safety whistle, it’s worth it for peace of mind to carry one or more non-lethal defense items with you when you’re out and about.

Whether you’re finishing your degree or shipping off to college for the first time, it’s important to make sure you’re properly prepared. With the simple tips above, you can feel confident in your ability to stay safe, protect yourself from whatever comes your way, and remember that GradGuard has your back!


Emma Bailey is a freelance writer and blogger based in Chicago, IL. A Midwest transplant from the state of California, she typically writes on the social justice issues that are closest to her heart. Her interests include kayaking, watching horror movies, and finding perfectly ripe avocados. You can find her on Twitter @emma_bailey90

Other Safety

Campus Crime & Fires: Don’t expect your college to replace stolen or damaged property

August 1, 2017

According to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, there were 69,502 reported property crimes on college campuses in 2015. In 2018, Clery Act reports on campus safety reported that there were 1,726 fires within on-campus student housing.  

As a result, college families are smart to make-a-plan in case a student is a victim of theft, their property is damaged by a fire or water damage or if they are found responsible for damages they may cause.  In fact, according to a survey by College Parents of America, a majority of state insurance commissioners recommend college students consider renters insurance.

The Top 3 Reasons Renters Insurance is a Smart Decision for College Students:

  1. Can the student replace stolen or damaged personal property such as a backpack, bicycle or computer? – Renters insurance can replace stolen or damaged student property.  Renters insurance can cover those costs and help students get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  2. Does the college or university replace stolen or damaged property?  – In a 2017 survey of student housing leaders, 98% of schools report that they do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with the college or university to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk.
  3. Can the student afford to pay for damages they cause and are found responsible for?  True renters insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

“Some families may have some protection through their homeowner’s policy, but they are often subject to high deductibles and making a claim on a policy can result in higher premium costs. As a result, for about $.50 cents a day, GradGuard’s college renters insurance plan is an affordable and practical way to protect your student from an unexpected financial loss that could disrupt a student’s semester,” said John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, an authority on protecting the investment of college students and their families and a leading provider of insurance programs to more than two hundred colleges and universities.

Other Safety

4 Personal Safety Accessories To Carry When Walking At Night

February 14, 2017

Whether you’re jogging around campus or walking home at night from a friend’s dorm, the potential for danger increases after dark. The reduced visibility and lack of eyewitnesses makes you a vulnerable target for would-be attackers.

As such, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and prepare for self-defense if necessary. Luckily, there are a variety of new self-defense products available that are small and subtle yet effective at warding off attackers.

Next time you’re outside alone at night, keep these convenient and portable accessories within reach—they just might save your life in a compromising situation.


Keychain Panic Alarm

This safety device from SABRE is disguised as a USB flash-drive and attaches to a key ring for protection at your fingertips. If endangered, yank the built-in fob, which triggers a warning siren to deter the assailant and inform anyone nearby of your distress. The alarm’s bandwidth reaches up to 300 feet, increasing your prospects of staying safe. The money you spend on this particular keychain goes to support The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.


Miniature Stun Gun

This weapon from  Vipertek is compact enough to fit inside your pocket for quick access. When activated, the stun gun emits 35-million volts of electricity to disarm a perpetrator and render them temporarily motionless:

“A stun gun works by attacking the nervous system, delivering high-voltage electricity to an attacker’s body. Unlike tasers, stun guns must make direct contact with the assailant to work but they’re less regulated and typically smaller and easier to conceal,” explain experts at The Home Security Super Store.

In addition, this gadget is also equipped with a high-powered LED flashlight, so you won’t become disoriented in the darkness. It also uses rechargeable batteries for maximum efficiency.


Go Guarded Ring

This wearable from Fisher Defensive comfortably and securely adjusts to your finger, just like any other ring you’re already wearing. When you make a fist, and the ring’s pointed tip automatically extends, allowing you to stab an offender in their sensitive areas. For added protection, the snug fit ensures this weapon cannot be knocked from your hand, which could give you the advantage in a struggle.


Red Pepper Spray

This common self-defense item, also from SABRE, is made with a high-performance liquid compound to induce police-grade strength from a 10-foot range. Given its potency, this pepper spray is more effective than other brands, and the ultraviolet marking dye assists law enforcement with identifying suspects.

When using the device remember that the spray will take a few minutes to overcome the person, says Gary Sikorski of Reasonable Force Training. He continues, “That is why you have to ‘spray and move’ after deploying pepper spray, and always be prepared to physically defend yourself.”



This post was contributed to GradGuard by Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time blogger. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness. She’s using her experience from writing, editing and marketing to help people get healthy and learn to love what their bodies can do. Follow her on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for health articles, new workouts and more.

Other Student Life

5 Steps to Protect Yourself From Theft on Campus

August 9, 2016
Protecting your valuables at college

As much as we may like to think that it will never happen to us, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that theft is a real thing that happens to the best of people.

And especially in such a closed in environment as a college campus, it can be a breeding ground for thieves. In fact, a public safety officer of Arizona State University described the campus “a Mall for Thieves”. In fact, campus crime is a major issue.

The most comprehensive analysis by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting recorded approximately 73,545 university and campus crimes in 2014.

Living independently – on campus or off – brings new forms of risk to college life and it is important to recognize that you are responsible for your personal property as well as any damage you may create.

It is important to note that colleges report that they do not replace stolen student property.  As a result, many schools recommend their campus residents purchase renters insurance from GradGuard.Renters-97% of housing-do-not-replace-computers and bikes renters factoids

However, there are a few things you can do to ensure your peace of mind – and your stuff – stays intact.

1. Lock your doors. It seems like common sense, right? However, a lot of people don’t feel the need to lock their doors often. Certainly, your door doesn’t need to be locked 24/7, but if you or your roommates are sleeping, or are not going to be home, it really is essential. It takes a few extra seconds, but can mean the difference to coming home to your Macbook, television, and Xbox, or coming home to an empty room. The same goes for your car doors, too!
2. Don’t advertise. In college, it’s inevitable that you’re going to be bringing some expensive equipment with you. Having a laptop is essential, and there are often many other items that would cost a pretty penny to replace. So, while you can’t avoid having them with you, you can avoid what you broadcast about them. You don’t need to be shouting about how expensive your stereo or computer were, or how you just got that new state of the art gaming system. This is like a big red flag for thieves, and it’s not all that hard for them to figure out where you live once they’re interested. Be smart about what you say to whom.

3. Write down serial numbers and take an inventory. In the unfortunate event that you are a victim of theft, it’s a good idea to have a list of your electronics’ serial numbers tucked away in a safe place. This can often help the odds of getting a stolen item back, as the police have a definitive idea of which is yours. Also, if you take an inventory of your belongings, which you should store online or in the cloud, you’ll know exactly what you’ve lost, so it is easier to replace in an insurance claim or easily for the authorities to track down.

4. Lock it up. Often in college, there is a need to have important documents such as your birth certificate, social security card, or papers from banks and loan lenders handy. However, if these are stolen, it can spell disaster. The best bet is to purchase an inexpensive lock box, preferably a fire proof one, to keep all of your important documents and artifacts in. For added protection, you can even purchase a bike lock and chain it to your bed or a shelf in your closet to be certain it can’t be removed from your room by anyone but yourself. The same goes for bikes themselves, too. You have to chain your bike up or it will almost be guaranteed to disappear.

5. Get Protected with Renters insurance. Renter’s insurance for students is really a smart idea.  Not all plans are the same.  Many renters plans available through the internet have a high deductible.  Starting at $500 it doesn’t cover the smaller claims and provide much value to students.  In addition, other plans require good credit or a credit check to secure coverage.

GradGuard’s™ renters insurance program is the only one that includes Exclusive Student Endorsement in each policy that contains unique college benefits such as:

  • Campus residents can receive preferred pricing (10-15% lower than standard rates)
  • All residents of campus housing will be approved – no individual credit checks
  • Full replacement coverage & world-wide property coverage
  • Affordable deductibles starting at $100.

Be sure to protect yourself both with both renters insurance and with good habits.