Going away to college is an exciting time in your life, most likely the first time you’ll be on your own, away from your parents and siblings, free to make your own rules and come and go as you please. Since you can remember, mom and dad have worried about you and your safety, always quick with a friendly reminder before you head out the door – “Stay safe and be aware of your surroundings.”
Now that you’re on your own, you’ll probably continue to hear those words of wisdom echoing in the back of your mind each time you head out, and that’s a great thing, because unfortunately, assaults and similar type crimes on college campuses are a real issue. The statistics don’t tell the entire story because many assaults and other crimes go unreported.
Preparing yourself with the tools you need to protect against attacks and would-be assailants is critically important. And luckily, there are more options available than ever.
Remember that in the not-so-distant past, most college students had to simply rely on a whistle or an old-fashioned can of pepper spray to protect themselves. Campuses also feature those traditional blue-light towers which let students call for help. Unfortunately, for that to work, you have to actually be standing at the tower and able to make the call. Under difficult circumstances, this is a best-case scenario and one that isn’t very likely.
However, with the uptick in violent on-campus crime around the country, the personal safety market is trending, and that’s a very good thing for college students and their safety, as well as the peace of mind of parents.
The personal safety market now includes everything from personal safety devices and alarms to cell phone apps. Let’s take a look at these categories in further detail below.
Personal Safety Alarms
Noise is one of the best deterrents to an attacker. That’s why many safety experts advocate screaming, blowing a whistle, or making any kind of noise that will attract help and draw attention to you, as well as scare off an attacker.
Whistles are still a great option. They’re small, light, and can easily be carried just about anywhere, and they’re highly effective, too.
However, the disadvantage is that you have to physically put the whistle in your mouth and blow for it to work, which may not always be possible. That’s why companies created hand-held personal alarms that can be detonated by the simple press of a button. These technologically advanced aides are the modern equivalent of the aforementioned whistle.
Think of it as a car alarm sounding and scaring off a thief. One company even likens their alarm to a “sound grenade.” Most can emit an ear-piercing noise level of up to 120 decibels – the equivalent of an ambulance or a loud concert.
Not only will the noise from one of these alarms draw attention to the situation and scare off the attacker, but it will also give you the opportunity to run and escape the situation as well.
Personal Alert Devices
This category of college safety devices allows you to alert a friend, family member, or even law enforcement should you feel threatened by someone or a particular situation. These types of devices can be attached to your cell phone, conveniently clipped to a key ring or backpack, or even slipped into an article of clothing like your pocket, waistband, or even a bra. The ideal place to keep it is where it will go undetected by an assailant, so that they don’t realize you have it.
Personal alert devices come equipped with a wide variety of functions. One of the most useful is the ability to alert someone to a potentially dangerous situation with a click of the button, or call for immediate professional help with another click.
Why is this feature so important? Unfortunately, many women and men are afraid of “crying wolf.” They’re scared to call for help and have the situation turn out to be nothing at all. So this feature allows them the opportunity to alert a friend or family member without summoning law enforcement if they simply have a hunch that there could be trouble.
Hand-held personal alert devices possess the major advantage of being available to use even if you don’t have your cell phone. Perhaps during an attack, your cell phone gets knocked away. With a separate hand-held device, stored in a pocket or somewhere else on your person, you still have the opportunity to summon help.
Personal Safety Apps
These days there’s an app for everything, right? So it’s no surprise that there are many personal safety apps available, most which do a number of the same functions as other personal safety devices.
Many of these apps use your phone’s GPS to track your location along a certain route, sending updates to a friend or family member so they know that you’re in the location you should be. Still others act as a personal safety alarm, emitting those same high-pitched, ear-piercing decibels of a safety device.
Most apps are either free or inexpensive to purchase, and you almost always have your cell phone with you so you can use the app. However, the major drawback is that if you forget your cell phone or if it gets knocked away in a struggle, you won’t have access to those apps. Plus, if you’re in an emergency situation, you may find it difficult to navigate the app when your adrenaline is flowing.
Pepper Spray & Other Gear
Pepper spray is a tried-and-true staple of personal safety, trusted by many as a go-to tool. It is, indeed, extremely effective in temporarily disabling an attacker in an up-close-and-personal situation.
However, you should check both the on-campus rules and regulations of your specific college, as well as the laws in your state. Some college campuses actually ban the use of pepper spray on campus, while certain states mandate a legal purchase and use age of 18.
Finally, let’s talk about in-room safety in either your dorm room or apartment. If you’ve ever watched a scary movie and then gone to bed, chances are you’ve barricaded yourself in your room with something, possibly a small desk or a chair. You know, just in case that movie villain decides to come for you.
But now, you’ll find a range of doorstop alarms available, many which emit those same high decibels as the personal safety alarms we talked about. Simply wedge the doorstop under your door, flip on the switch and when pressure is applied to the doorstop from an opening door, the alarm will sound, waking you up and hopefully scaring off the intruder.
Whatever combination of safety gear, tools and apps you decide on, the most crucial aspect is taking preventative action to help keep you prepared for an emergency situation and keep you safe from an attack.
Here at CHIEF Supply, we stock a number of safety devices to help you do just that.
ASP Key Defender
This hand-held safety device from ASP features pepper spray in a small, lightweight, easy-to-use container, which also can be used as a traditional kubaton weapon. This safety key ring allows you to jab an attacker or slash him with keys. The Key Defender features six half-second bursts of pepper spray with an effective range of five feet.
The Key Defender fits perfectly in your hand, and is the ideal safety tool to carry in any situation, from walking around campus, to the grocery store parking lot, to keeping with you on your jogs.
ASP Palm Defender
ASP’s Palm Defender is a bit smaller than its Key Defender, making it perfect for those with smaller hands. With that decrease in size also comes a decrease in the amount of pepper spray it holds. The Palm Defender contains three half-second bursts and has an effective range of three feet.
Brite-Strike Technologies 3-in-1 Personal Safety Alarm
Brite-Strike researched and designed this safety device specifically to reduce the incidents of violence against women, especially on college campuses.
It features a 120-decibel, screeching alarm, loud and piercing enough to scare off would-be attackers. Triggered when the alarm is activated, its flashing red lights are designed to draw attention to the wearer from those around, and add another layer of protection. The third tool in the 3-in-1 is a powerful, white LED flashlight to help illuminate your surroundings when it’s dark.
Smith&Wesson Tactical Penlight/Self Defense/Glass Break Tool
This penlight easily fits in your pocket or purse, and can be carried when walking around campus or in a desolate parking lot. It features a reliable LED flashlight, but perhaps its greatest feature is the sharp, pointed tip which doubles as a glass break or a self-defense weapon that can be used to fend off attackers.