Guides and Tips
Tips for Confronting Danger and Staying Safe
- Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, something is probably wrong.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Walk close to the curb, facing oncoming traffic.
- Carry bags close to your body.
- Look confident.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- If you are being followed, head for a crowded place.
- If people start milling around you, it could be a setup for a mugging.
- Know yourself. How do you react in a crisis situation? Do you scream? Cry? Freeze? How would you defend yourself?
- Remember, there is no right or wrong approach to dangerous situations.
- Show your anger, not your fear. A furious reaction often may stop an attack. Remember, an attacker is looking for an easy victim. Yelling is always a good deterrent (a good choice is to yell FIRE). This will draw attention to those who do not want to get involved, but may be concerned for their own safety and may come to help.
- If there are other people around, yell loudly enough to get their attention so they'll see what the assailant is doing.
- If you are alone and do not know anyone on the street or nearby, try calling a name out to make the attacker or assailant believe that you may be with someone. This may also help if you are alone at home.
- If someone has a weapon, stay calm and wait for an opportunity. Weapons make the situation more dangerous and difficult, but there still may be something you can do about the situation.
- Non-resistance to prevent physical violence: negotiate, stall for time, distract or divert the assailant, flee, verbal assertiveness, scream, or use a whistle or shriek alarm to attract attention and help.
- Be alert to your surroundings and the people around you, especially if you are alone or it is dark.
- Whenever possible, travel with a friend. Walk close to the curb. Avoid doorways, bushes, and alleys where someone could hide.
- If you carry a purse, your personal safety might depend on not clinging to it. Although a purse snatcher’s intent is to steal the purse, the grabbing and shoving that may take place could result in injury.
- If you carry an item to use as a weapon (e.g. keys, pen whistle, etc.) walk with it in your hand, rather than in your purse or pocket.
- Do not respond to conversation from strangers on the street – continue walking.
- Report all suspicious persons and activities to the local police or Berkeley College Public Safety Department.
In the Libraries
- Avoid studying in overly secluded areas. Study with others or in areas where there are other people.
- Don’t forget to eject your USB thumb drive after you have finished using it.
- Do not leave your belongings unattended. It only takes a few seconds for a thief to take all of your belongings.
On Campus in the Evening
- Walk with a friend.
- Stay in well-lit, well-populated areas. Take the safest route, not the fastest route.
- Be aware of your environment. Don’t be afraid to look over your shoulders. It’s not rude to maintain a safe distance between yourself and others.
- Avoid blind corners. Take wide turns so that you have room to react to what’s ahead.
- Carry your keys in your hands. They may be used as a weapon if necessary.
In the Parking Structures & Lots
- Carry your keys in your hands. You’ll be able to get into your car faster; the keys may be used as a weapon if necessary.
- Avoid blind corners. Take wide turns so that you have room to react to what’s ahead.
- Walk in the center of the aisles when safe to do so. You’ll have more reaction time if someone leaps out from behind a car.
- Walk with confidence. Criminals can often sense when you feel vulnerable, and this may entice them.
- Check your back seats before getting into your car.
- Park in well-lit, well-traveled areas of the parking structure or lot.
- Use a “club” and/or car alarm. They make theft more difficult for the criminal, and less enticing.
- Do not keep valuables in your car. If you must, keep these items in the trunk where they are out of sight. If you have an internal trunk lock, use it.
- Know your limit for alcohol. You are more vulnerable when you don’t have full use of your senses.
- Always report any suspicious activity to the police. Call 911 for emergencies and Berkeley College Public Safety Dept. for non-emergencies.
- Be aware of your surroundings when using ATMs (Automated Teller Machines). Keep track of who is behind you.
- When running alone in the evenings, do not wear ear-buds, as this eliminates hearing as a defense mechanism. Try to run with a friend in the evenings, or have them watch you as you run.
- Keep your keys in your hand while running, as they can be used as a weapon if necessary.
- Always let someone know where you’ll be going and when you can be expected to return.
- Purchase and use a good lock and helmet for your bike and motorcycle.
- Register your bike at the police station.
Purse / Backpack / Tote Bag Protections
- Never carry anything you can't afford to lose.
- Carry your purse across the front of your body, with your forearm across the front of the purse and your elbow held tightly against your side.
- Carry your keys, wallet, or other valuables in pockets in your clothes.
- Carry minimum amounts of cash and credit cards. Keep a record of all of your card numbers.
- Don't leave it on the seat of your car or out in the open in a vehicle.
- Keep zippers and flaps secured on backpacks. Do not store wallets and valuables in the backpack.
- Carry totes that zip or have securable flap closures. Do not carry an open tote.
- Electronic equipment has become an integral part of the student's personal property inventory and some items are crucial to their academic success. Document and engrave all personal property and equipment.
- Registration helps to deter theft and aid in returning recovered property. On the registration form, you will list descriptions of valuable items, serial numbers, and owner engraved.
- If an item is stolen and you have the serial number and the item is engraved with your driver's license number, the item can be entered into the state/national law enforcement computer system and can be identified anywhere in the U.S.
- Secure your property within your residence. Lock your door even if you're only leaving for a short while.
In recent years, students around the country have been a target for thieves who steal textbooks and sell them. They may also be in search of other valuables students leave in their book bags. Here are some steps you can take to prevent this:
- Always put your name in your book.
- Avoid leaving books unattended in the library, coffee shops, and on the racks by the dining halls.
Protecting Your Vehicle
Vehicles in parking lots always present a target for thieves. Here are some steps you can take to diminish the chance that your car will be broken into or stolen:
- Lock your car whenever it is unattended, both on- and off-campus.
- Do not leave expensive property, such as CD cases, purses, radar detectors, cell phones, and portable stereos in plain view in your car. Lock them in your trunk or take them into your residence. Cover up conspicuous stereo equipment. Remember that thieves target after-market stereo equipment, not factory installed equipment.
- Record the brand, model numbers, and serial numbers of all electronic equipment installed in your car. In the event of theft, give this information to the police. If the equipment is recovered, it can be returned to you. Also engrave your driver's license number on this equipment.
- If you live off-campus, make every attempt to park your car off the street, if possible. If not, park in a well-lit5 area.
- Use a steering wheel lock when your car is parked. While these devices can be defeated, a thief may decide it's not worth the effort.
College students experience dating violence at staggering rates and face unique obstacles in accessing services to escape an abusive relationship.
- Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence.
- Nearly one-third of college students report physically assaulting a dating partner in the previous 12 months.
- As many as one quarter of female students experience sexual assault over the course of their college career.
- Approximately 90% of victims of sexual assault on college campuses know their attacker.
Obstacles Facing College Students
Students often have difficulty recognizing verbal and emotional abuse, or do not have enough experience in relationships to know that the abusive behavior is not normal or healthy. College students may feel trapped by the social networks and closed environment of many campuses. Away from home for the first time, students can become isolated from their personal support network and resources for help. Students that seek legal protection may also find themselves with few options if their state does not allow victims who are dating their abuser to obtain civil protection orders (also known as restraining orders).
Sexual Assault on Campus
Young women on college campuses are especially at risk of sexual assault and abuse. Victims of sexual assault face not only the threat of physical injury, unwanted pregnancy, and contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, but also experience emotional and psychological trauma. Feelings of shame, embarrassment, and guilt, as well as confusion of what constitutes “sexual assault,” discourage many female students from reporting the assault and seeking follow-up care.
If You Need Help
If you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence and needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-856-HOPE.
Minimize Your Risk
In the course of a busy day, you may write a check at the grocery store, charge tickets to a ball game, rent a car, mail your tax returns, call home on your cell phone, order new checks, or apply for a credit card. Everyday transactions that you may never give a second thought to are an identity thief's bread and butter. Each of these transactions requires the sharing of personal information: your bank account and credit card numbers; your income, Social Security number and name, address, and phone numbers, to name a few. While you can't prevent identity theft, you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information wisely.
Catching Identity Theft Early
Sometimes an ID thief can strike even when you've been very careful. One of the best ways to catch identity theft is to regularly check your credit record. Order your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year and make sure all the information is correct. Also, follow up with creditors if your bills do not arrive on time. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your credit card account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks.
- Before revealing personal identifying information, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared with others. Ask if you have a choice about the use of your information: can you choose to have it kept confidential?
- Pay close attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if bills do not arrive on time.
- Give your social security number only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
- Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry to what you actually need. If your ID or credit cards are lost or stolen, notify the creditors by phone immediately, and call the credit bureaus to ask that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file.
- Order a copy of your credit report from the three credit reporting agencies every year. Make sure it's accurate and includes only those activities you've authorized.
- Keep items with personal information in a safe place; tear them up or shred when you don't need them anymore. Make sure charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, bank checks and statements, expired charge cards, and credit offers you get in the mail are disposed of appropriately. Consider purchasing a shredder.
If You're a Victim of Identity Theft
1, 2, 3 - Do these three things immediately!
- Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus (contact information is listed below) and report that your identity has been stolen. Ask that a "fraud alert" be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval.
- For any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened, contact the security departments of the appropriate creditors or financial institutions. Close these accounts. Put passwords (not your mother's maiden name) on any new accounts you open.
- File a report with your local police or the police where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the report in case the bank, credit card company, or others need proof of the crime later on.
Get the big picture - there is help out there:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, the Commission assists victims of identity theft and other problems that can result in identity theft. The FTC also may refer victim complaints to other appropriate government agencies and private organizations for further action.
If you've been a victim of ID theft, you can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline.
Toll-free 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338); TDD: 202-326-2502
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20580
For more information, visit http://www.consumer.gov/section/scams-and-identity-theft.
As a woman, you can...
- Be careful not to let alcohol or other drugs decrease your ability to take care of yourself and make sensible decisions.
- Trust your feelings. If a place or the way your date acts makes you nervous or uneasy, get out!
- Check out a first date or blind date with friends. Meet in and go to public places. Carry money for a phone call or taxi, or take your own car.
- Don't leave a social event with someone you've just met or don't know well.
- Do not accept beverages from someone you don't know and trust. Always watch your drink and never leave it unattended.
As a man, you can...
- Accept a woman's decision when she says "no." Do not see it as a challenge.
- Ask yourself how sexual stereotypes affect your attitudes and actions toward women.
- Avoid clouding your judgment and understanding of what another person wants by using alcohol and other drugs.
- Realize that forcing a woman to have sex against her will is rape, a violent crime with serious consequences.
- Never be drawn into gang rapes.
- Seek counseling or a support group to help you deal with feelings of violence and aggression toward women.
What Are "Date Rape" Drugs?
They are called date rape drugs because when they are slipped into someone's drink, a sexual assault can take place with the victim being unable to remember what happened.
- GHB - (also known as "Liquid X," "salt water," or "scoop.") Its effects are drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, coma and death. Its most common form is a clear liquid, although it can also be a white, grainy powder.
- Alcohol - even though people don't consider this a "drug," it is the most commonly used substance to facilitate date rape.
If a Date Rape Happens:
- Get help. Don't isolate yourself, don't feel guilty and don't try to ignore it. It is a crime and should be reported.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible. Do not shower, wash, douche, or change your clothes. Valuable evidence could be destroyed.
If You Need Help:
- If you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence and needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-856-HOPE.
While thefts, robberies and other unlawful activity continue at a relatively low level, adhering to basic crime prevention advice will help you reduce risk to yourself and also discourage those who commit crime. First, when entering your residence hall or building area, please respect access code rules; do not let strangers or unauthorized people into controlled areas. Second, make sure that you lock your door and windows when you leave your room. Even if you are only going to the bathroom or are visiting a friend down the hall, you still should keep your door locked. Third, report all suspicious persons and activities to your SDCL, or to Public Safety. Being alert and using common sense are the best ways to prevent crime from happening to you and those around you in our community. Continued vigilance and watchfulness are necessary to help you avoid becoming a victim of crime. By taking a few simple precautions you can reduce risk to yourself and also discourage those who commit crime.
Dorm Room Precautions
- Always lock the door behind you when you leave your room – even if just to go to the restroom.
- Close and lock your windows whenever you leave your room. Burglars have been known to break into rooms by walking out onto the ledge.
- If your window or door locks do not work, call the front desk of your facility.
- Report all suspicious persons and activities to local police or Public Safety.
- Keep your valuables, purse, or wallet out of plain view from the window.
- Have your keys ready and enter your dorm room/suite as quickly as possible when returning home.
- Keep your curtains and blinds closed at night.
- Do not hide door keys outside and do not loan keys to anyone other than family members or trusted friends.
- If you hear a prowler inside your dorm room/suite, get out, if possible, through a back door or window. Avoid any confrontation with the prowler.
- Place lights on a timer when away from your residence for an evening.
- Positively identify anyone at your front door before opening the door.
- Respect access code rules; do not let strangers into controlled areas.
- If a stranger asks to use your phone, get the information and place the call for him or her. Do not allow any stranger into your residence.
- Do not tape or put any objects in your door jam. You may forget that you’ve done so and leave your room vulnerable to theft.
- Keep your backpack in your room when eating in the dining halls. The cubby holes for backpacks are not monitored.
- Have your computer software properly licensed. Enter the appropriate names of the owner into the computer when installing. Send your registration card into the software company so that there is a record of your purchase.
- Purchase a plastic keychain coil that fits around your wrist. You’ll be able to take a shower and keep your keys in your possession.
- Check the peephole before you open your door. If you can’t see anyone, don’t open the door.
- Report any building safety problems to the RA or SDCL.
Be careful when using an automatic teller machine, especially when getting cash. To increase your level of safety at automatic teller machines, follow these basic guidelines:
- Try to use the ATM during daylight hours. If you have to get cash at night, go with someone else and only use machines that are well-lit and visible from a major street.
- Look for suspicious people or activity.
- If you notice anything out of the ordinary, even if you have started a transaction, cancel your transaction and leave.
- When entering your secret code, use your body as a shield.
- Always take your transaction receipts and statements.
- Do not count or display money at the ATM.
- Do not accept offers of help from anyone you don't know. If you have problems or questions contact your bank.
- Protect your access code. Memorize your access code; don't write it down and/or carry it with you.
- Don't use an access code that's the same as other words or numbers in your wallet.
- Never tell your access code to ANYONE!! (Including bank employees, the police, etc.)
- Never lend your ATM card to anyone; treat it like cash or a credit card.
- If you lose your ATM card, notify your bank or credit union immediately.
- Never accept offers of assistance with the ATM from strangers. If you do have problems, contact your financial institution.
How to Respond When An Active Shooter Is in Your Vicinity
Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Customers and clients are likely to follow the lead of employees and managers during an active shooter situation.
- Have an escape route and plan in mind
- Leave your belongings behind
- Keep your hands visible
2. Hide Out
- Hide in an area out of the active shooter's view
- Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors
3. Take Action
- As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger
- Attempt to incapacitate the active shooter
- Act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter
Call 911 when it is safe to do so.
How to Respond When Law Enforcement Arrives on the Scene
1. How You Should React When Law Enforcement Arrives:
- Remain calm, and follow officers' instructions
- Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
- Keep hands visible at all times
- Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety
- Avoid pointing, screaming, and/or yelling
- Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises
2. Information You Should Provide to Law Enforcement or 911 Operator:
- Location of the active shooter
- Number of shooters, if more than one
- Physical description of shooters
- Number and type of weapons held by the shooter/s
- Number of potential victims at the location
Recognizing Signs of Potential Workplace Violence
An active shooter may be a current or former employee. Alert the Human Resources department if you believe an employee exhibits potentially violent behavior. Indicators of potentially violent behavior may include one or more of the following:
- Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs
- Unexplained increase in absenteeism, and/or vague physical complaints
- Increased severe mood swings, and noticeably unstable or emotional responses
- Increasingly talks of problems at home
- Increase in unsolicited comments about violence, firearms, and other dangerous weapons and violent crimes
The active shooter information was provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; National Tactical Officers Association; the Fairfax County, Virginia Police Department; National Retail Federation; and Retail Industry Leaders Assocation.