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Tuesday, 24 July 2007


Safety is relative. Some neighborhoods are more precarious than others. Wherever you live, please take precautions regarding your safety. Your university will have its own security in addition to the city security. If you live within university grounds, you have two forms of security you can run to—the university security and the city police. Find out where they are stationed just in case of emergency. If you live outside the campus, find the location of the nearest police district.

As grad students, you probably have a lot of classes that end late in the evening. Our survey respondents recommend bringing a whistle, mace/pepper spray (might be illegal in your area), taking self-defense classes, and generally always look like you know where you are going.

Safety tips from NYU handbook:

On the Streets
• At night, walk close to the curb. Avoid bushes and doorways where an attacker can hide. Travel on well-lighted streets.
• Walk in an assertive manner. An attacker looks for someone who appears vulnerable.
• Late at night, walk facing the flow of traffic. Know where you are going. Plan your route in advance.
• Walk in well-lighted and populated areas, especially at night. Stay out of parks at night. Be aware of your surroundings and of suspicious persons or circumstances. If followed, walk quickly to a well-lit and populated area. If followed by a car, turn and walk in the opposite direction.
• Travel with a friend whenever possible at night. If you must travel alone, tell a friend your route and promise to call by a certain time.
• Do not walk, drive or bicycle while using headphones, because they can be a big distraction.
• Do not use Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) late at night. When you do use an ATM to withdraw cash, do not count it out in front of the machine where others can easily observe the amount. Put the money away, and count it in a private setting.
• Always keep bags closed and book bags zipped and buckled. Keep your bag on your lap in restaurants. Do not hang it on the back of your chair or leave it in an empty chair. It is good practice to keep bags between your feet under the table.
• Always have enough money for cab fare home and quarters to make telephone calls. Carry a Metrocard whenever you go out, even if you are not planning on taking the subway or bus.

Titchie’s Dad’s Advice: Always have an extra $20 handy for emergencies

In University Buildings
• While guards from Protection Services staff our buildings, people not affiliated with the university may occasionally gain access. It is important to be alert and to avoid whenever possible isolated areas in buildings.
• Purses and wallets should be locked in desk drawers or other secure places.
• Secure your office doors when working alone or if you must leave for a few minutes. If you are alone late at night or on the weekend, it is a good idea to notify a security guard of your presence and schedule.
• Always report suspicious occurrences or persons to your school’s protection services.
• The major crime committed at NYU is theft of wallets, bags, purses, and other personal belongings that are left in unlocked lockers, or are left unattended in classrooms or in the library. Never leave personal belongings unattended.

In Residence Halls
• Lock the door to your room when going to bed or leaving the room, even if it is only for a short time, i.e. when going down the hall to talk with a friend or the bathroom. The vast majority of crimes in residence halls involve theft of personal property. Most crimes occur when doors are left unlocked. Locking your door is, therefore, the single most effective action that you can take to prevent theft.
• Do not lend your key or ID card to anyone.
• Do not leave notes on your door announcing that no one is there.
• Keep small items of value, i.e. purses, wallets, money and jewelry, out of sight. Be careful to watch valuables in lounges, libraries, and dining halls.
• Do not invite people into your residence hall unless you know them quite well.

At Home
• Always have your keys ready when approaching the door.
• Never open your door without knowing who is on the other side. Install a peephole in the door and require salespeople and meter readers to show identification.
• Leave lights on when you go out. Use automatic timers for lights when you leave town.
• List only your first initial and last name on your mailbox and in the telephone directory.
• Answering machine messages should never indicate that you are not home or are on vacation.
• Never admit to strangers by phone or at your door that you’re alone.
• Be sure to secure all locks, even if you are at home or only leaving your apartment for a few minutes.
• Report lost or stolen keys. Have locks changed immediately.
• Do not let strangers in to make telephone calls. Take the number and make the call for them.
• Keep a telephone near your bed. If you hear a burglar, do not give any sign of being aware. If you can safely call for assistance, do so. Avoid alerting or interrupting a burglar.
• Know which of your neighbors you can call in case of an emergency.
• If you walk into your building and find suspicious individuals loitering there or suspect someone is in your apartment, do not enter. Call emergency.
• Be sure to obtain renter's (tenant's) insurance for your property. If any property is stolen, report it for insurance and recovery purposes.

Fire Safety
• Never tamper with or obstruct a smoke detector. Change the batteries regularly, so that they are always fresh.
• Have a prepared plan of escape and practice it. Learn the locations of fire exits in buildings. Know at least two ways out. In apartments, make sure there is a fire escape for all floors above the ground level.
• Never smoke in bed.
• Do not overload extension cords. Replace all frayed or cracked cords.
• When cooking, never leave food unattended.
• Never use water on grease fires; instead, cover the pan.
• If you live in an apartment, it's a good idea to purchase one or two fire extinguishers and to keep them near your kitchen and bedroom areas.
If you detect a fire in a campus building or residence hall
• Alert the occupants.
• Pull the fire alarm.
• Exit via the nearest stairway. Never use an elevator in a fire.
• Call Protection Services.

If you are caught in a fire
• Check the door. If it is hot, do not open it. Keep it closed and seal the door by stuffing towels, sheets, rags, or anything else you have under it (and over it, if there is a space on top),
• Close the doors behind you as you escape. If you are leaving through a door that you want to lock, e.g., your residence hall room, take your key with you.
• Use the stairs; never use an elevator when there is a fire.
• Get down on the floor and crawl, since smoke and heat rise.
• If you are confined to a room, signal for help from a window using a towel or sheet.
• If your clothing catches fire, drop and roll; never run.

Automobile Safety
• Wear your seatbelt; it is the law.
• Park in well-lighted areas.
• Have your keys in your hand before reaching your vehicle. Check the interior of your vehicle before entering it.
• Lock all doors immediately after entering or leaving your car.
• If you believe you are being followed, do not drive home. Stay on busy streets and drive to a public place or a police station.
• If your car breaks down, open the hood and attach a white cloth to the antenna. Stay in your car with doors locked. If someone stops to help, remain in your locked car and ask them to call the police, a garage, or if you are a member, an automobile club.
• Use a steering wheel lock to protect your car from theft and a locking gas cap to prevent fuel thefts.
• Mount your stereo or car phone on a bracket that allows removal of the unit when you leave the vehicle. Store the item in your trunk.

Source: “Handbook for Scholars, Staff, and Faculty,” Published by the NYU Office of International Students and Scholars

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