Last week, my wife and I moved my two younger daughters into college. Luckily, their university is just twenty minutes away, but that doesn’t make the process any easier. Did we pack the proper things? Will they get enough sleep? Will their professors imbibe wisdom into their classes that they will remember? But most importantly, will our girls be safe? These questions remained top-of-mind and continue to do so. So when SABRE, a well-known personal safety brand, asked me if I wanted to get a sample of their products, I told them their timing couldn’t be better! And they offered some essential safety tips for college-bound kids that I wanted to share and add to. (*Disclosure below.)
SABRE is a known personal safety brand that has been around for over 45 years, and while I haven’t used their products hands-on, they are very commonplace and used by many, not just college students. My wife’s and my opinion on personal safety is this – you can NEVER be safe enough! We implement regular check-ins, are aware of their locations via services like Life360, and send them safety articles to continue to grow their education. Some people may call us “over-protective,” but we don’t care. Why even take a chance?!
Also, college safety extends beyond females. People are robbed and accosted regardless of sex, race, religion, etc. Knowing that personal violence can happen to anyone is important to keep top of mind. You need to be prepared, know your surroundings, have a core friend network, and have tools available to make your activities as safe as possible.
A few safety tips
There are websites devoted to personal safety. The tips I provide below are just a tiny fraction of what is available. AND, I am NOT an expert in this. I only know what I have heard (especially from my wife) and what I have read online. One thing that I do know is that you MUST communicate with your children, regardless of their age. Safety preparation begins at a young age. It’s just the nature of the content that evolves as your children get older.
Some of the tips below were provided by SABRE, but I have added some items of my own to the list. If you have your own recommendations or advice, please leave a comment at the end of the article. It is critical to share best practices and tips with the community so that everyone’s awareness continues to expand.
Here are a few tips to start with:
- Buddy system – never go alone. Find a buddy to go to class with, or the library, or the dorms, or to parties.
- Party wing-people – if and when you go to parties, always make sure you go with someone. This is similar to the buddy system, but with your wing-man/woman, you watch their back, and they watch yours for anything out of the ordinary. Also, if you come with that person, you stay with them, and you leave with them. And it is better to have more than one wing-person.
- Overcommunicate – we have always asked our girls to text us “I’m leaving” and “I have arrived” whenever they go out. It is a bit much, so daytime notifications are a bit more optional. But we are much firmer in this ask when it comes to nighttime activities. As an added bonus, knowing where they are going is great!
- Tracking apps are great – yes, you will be branded as being a bit of a helicopter parent (I actually like the term drone-parent as it’s a bit techier), but being able to see where your child was or is can actually lower your blood pressure and worry level a bit. Your kids will push back on this, so you need to communicate that you do this because you care and love them. Eventually, they will hopefully come around. We use Life360 and the Find My app for this, but many others available.
- Don’t be an easy target – being aware of your surroundings as well as knowing where you are going is critical. Don’t put on headphones or earbuds. Or if you do, only use one earbud. Hearing your surroundings is core to being safe. If you are out exercising, go with a buddy or simply listen to the world around you!
- Lock your doors – whether it is your dorm room door, your apartment, or your car, be sure you always lock it. It can slow or stop intruders.
- Protect your drinks – yes, part of college is going to parties and having drinks. First, don’t overindulge. Drink lots of water. Have a meal before you go out. But once you are at a party or a bar, protect your drink. Don’t accept drinks from anyone (unless it is your wing-person). Stay away from mixed drinks if possible. Avoid the vat of unknown, red-colored drinks. Always keep your drink covered. Drink only from bottles and cans, AND be sure you are the one that opened them, not someone else.
- No drugs – this is a huge topic. But I have heard about so many fentanyl deaths coming from drugs being laced, the easiest and safest way to combat that is to just not do drugs. Period.
- Get trained in self-defense – many colleges offer safety classes or workshops to help you be more prepared. Take one, or two, or ten. Or enroll in some martial arts classes.
- Get personal safety gadgets – I left this to the end of the list as the next section goes into a few devices you can get to make things a bit safer.
I realize this is a very short list but with topics that could have articles dedicated to each one. What are some tips you have given your children? Leave a comment!
Personal safety devices from SABRE
As I mentioned, SABRE sent me a few devices specifically related to personal safety. And they have many more interesting safety gadgets beyond just the three listed here. I have gone through their site and selected a few items I believe should be mentioned as good for college-bound students.
Here are the three items I received (and it is hard to review them as I don’t want to test them on anybody – the best safety device is one that never has to be used, honestly). I have also listed the current Amazon price:
- Pepper Spray with Snap Clip & Key Ring (Jeweled Series) – $11.17 on Amazon
- Pepper Gel & Whistle – $14.99 on Amazon
- Emergency Whistle w/ Key Ring, Lanyard & Carabiner Clip – $7.27 on Amazon
Looking back in my Amazon purchase history, long before connecting with SABRE, I had purchased some pepper spray by SABRE for one of my daughters.
But, apart from the items I mentioned above, several other SABER safety gadgets I would recommend simply based on their descriptions. These go beyond just pepper spray and gel to protecting yourself and your habitation (like an apartment or a dorm room):
- Personal Alarm with LED Light and Snap Hook – $13.99 on Amazon
- Wedge Door Stop Security Alarm – $13.25 on Amazon
- Adjustable 2-in-1 Door Security Bar – $27.99 on Amazon
- Smart Pepper Spray, Free Text Alerts, Continuous Location Tracking (this sends an alert to friends/family if the pepper spray is deployed – $37.20 on Amazon
However, there is a full SABRE store on Amazon that has a ton of different safety devices. I encourage you to take a look there to find exactly what you need for your college student or yourself. And there are additional college Safety Tips on the SABRE website!
So, to wrap up my safety tips recommendations, be sure you start your safety discussions early with your children so they grow up learning the importance of personal safety. Continue the dialogue as they grow older (we continue to have regular discussions with our 24-year-old). Encourage them to talk about personal safety with their peers and set up plans for when they are together. And, getting personal protection devices is definitely a must!
Please be safe and keep your kids safe!
Disclosure: I have a material connection because I received a sample of a product for consideration in preparing to review the product and write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own and are typically not subject to editorial review from any 3rd party. Also, some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate” or “advertising” links. These may be automatically created or placed by me manually. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item (sometimes but not necessarily the product or service being reviewed), I will receive a small affiliate or advertising commission. More information can be found on my About page.
HTD says: While there are many personal safety tips you can read about and follow, it is critical that you have regular discussions about safety with your kids even at a young age. And, be sure to get safety devices (like ones from SABRE) to add that extra level of protection.