Section 3: Staying Safe
Although Buckingham is in the top 3 most safe campuses in the country, it is always important to be vigilant and aware of your environments.
Here you will learn how to:
- Keep yourself safe
- Keep your stuff safe
- Keep your home safe
Keeping Yourself Safe
Buckingham is a quiet town so you might go looking for adventure in one of the nearby cities. When doing so, there are a few easy tips to remember that will help keep you safe:
Try to plan ahead
Make sure someone knows where you are going, who you are meeting and when you expect to return. Always plan how you are going to get home again.
Stay with friends
If you are socializing with a group of people, then watch out for each other and make sure everyone stays safe.
Stick to busy, well lit areas
If you are out at night, try to stick to busy streets and near other people. Avoid danger spots such as poorly-lit areas, deserted parks, or quiet alleyways.
Ensure you are aware of your surroundings at night. If you are on a bus at night, it may be safer to sit in the lower deck. If on the underground or train at night, try to sit with other people to avoid empty carriages. Please only take a licensed taxi or Uber.
Only take what you need
Avoid carrying huge amounts of money with you in case it is lost or stolen. Try to take the amount you think you will need.
Watch your drink
Don’t leave any drinks unattended as this may increase the possibility of your drink being spiked. Spiking is a term used that refers to when a drug or substance is added to your drink without your knowledge. Spiking can happen to both men and women. Criminals do this in order to commit a crime against you such as theft, robbery or sexual assault.
For these reasons, avoid accepting drinks from strangers. If you need to leave your drink for whatever reason, ask your friends to watch your drink.
Keep an eye on your belongings
Keep your belongings hidden and keep your bag in front of you, not behind you. Many places have Chelsea clips under the tables to be able to hang your bag so use them!
Be an active bystander
If you see someone in trouble, think twice about trying to help there and then. Calling the Police or asking a security officer to help might be better depending on the situation.
Think about the risks
Remember to think about the risks before inviting someone you have just met into your room. Consent is everything.
A lot of people are tempted to take drugs because they want to feel something different, or because their friends are doing it. First-time drug use is especially common amongst new students. However drugs are potentially harmful and could lead to a continuing addiction. If you are considering trying drugs or if you are already taking drugs it is important that you understand the risks that are associated with them.
The information below aims to give you some information about some of the different types of drugs which are often taken by students:
Cannabis is one of the most widely used recreational drugs and is usually smoked, eaten or drunk. A lot of people use it because they say that it makes them feel relaxed or that it helps to ease continued pain. However there are negative side effects of smoking cannabis.
Cannabis can make users feel very lethargic and may reduce their motivation levels. People struggle to concentrate when they are under the effects of cannabis and some regular users will find that their concentration levels decrease at all times. In some cases, users become anxious, paranoid and even experience schizophrenic episodes after cannabis use. As with regular tobacco, smoking cannabis can lead to increased likelihood of developing lung diseases, heart diseases and lung cancer.
Depending on what form it is in cocaine can either be smoked, snorted or injected. Although many users say that it increases their confidence, give them more energy and improves their mood, the effects are usually short lived and can be followed by a nasty comedown. During the comedown phase a user may feel depressed, unwell and lethargic and the comedown effects can last for several days.
Cocaine use can cause a heart attack by over-stimulating the heart and nervous system. The risk of a heart attack is exacerbated if the user already has an existing heart condition, or if the user takes cocaine at the same time as drinking alcohol. Snorting cocaine will damage the cartilage in your nose and can result in a deviated septum. It can be a highly addictive substance and can cause problems for people who have developed a psychological dependency on the drug.
Ecstasy can be obtained in powder form (which can be snorted or rubbed on the gums) or in tablet form. Many users feel as though they are more alert, affectionate and talkative, and that they experience the world in Technicolor. However, taking ecstasy can also cause confusion, anxiety, paranoia and types of psychosis. Long term use may cause depression, ongoing anxiety and memory issues.
The main danger associated with ecstasy is from dehydrating and overheating because the drug affects the body temperature control. If users consume too much water to overcompensate for this when they have taken the drug, it can also cause serious medical issues and even death. Ecstasy may become addictive over time and the body also build up a tolerance to it. When the body is tolerant to it, the user will have to take more of the drug in order to get the same effects.
Speed is a stimulant which can be taken in a number of different ways. Users are said to feel more alert more energetic and more confident. It may also reduce the users appetite. Negative side effects of the drug include agitation and aggression. Over time, users can become confused paranoid or psychotic. They are likely to develop depression or ongoing lethargy after periods of heavy use.
Speed can also put excess stress on the heart which can lead to a heart attack or ongoing heart problems.
Many people think that legal highs are safe because they are not illegal. However, many legal highs are only still considered to be legal because not enough research has been carried out on them yet. Many of these legal highs have adverse mental health effects and can affect the physical health as well. In recent years, an increasing number of people have died after consuming legal highs.
If you do take drugs
If you do decide to take drugs, you should make sure that someone knows what you have taken, and that they are willing to share this information with doctors if you do experience any negative health consequences. Knowing what has been taken can help the doctors to save your life.
You should never mix drugs, as this is more likely to have serious consequences. You should also avoid drinking alcohol if you are taking any other types of drugs, including cannabis.
Never take any drug if you don’t know what it is, even if a trusted friend says that they can vouch for it.
Remember that dealers often cut their drugs which substances to make the products “go further”. The substances that they use may also be harmful.
As the number of internet users continues to grow, so does the number of people on the internet who are out to try to con innocent people. There are thousands of websites out there that aim to steal your money or your identity, or both. In addition to suspicious websites, there are other online dangers, such as Spyware viruses or phishing emails. This article aims to give you some advice about how to stay safe from scams when you are online.
Do not allow remote access to your computer
Even if you believe that you have a virus on your computer, you should not allow anyone to have remote access to your computer for any reason, unless you know 100% that they are from a trusted source. Trusted sources may include your internet service provider and computer-repair companies that you already have an account with. Allowing other people to have remote access to your computer will allow them to gain access to all of the personal data that you have stored on there, and will compromise your future online security. They may also take the opportunity to install malicious software.
Make sure that your security software is up-to-date and that you run it regularly to make sure that there is nothing suspicious on your computer. Old virus software is unlikely to pick up or stop newer computer viruses or Malware, unless the maker has developed an update for them. Only use anti-virus software from genuine suppliers. Pop–ups claiming to be from anti-virus “software” which will rid your machine of specific viruses are normally fraudulent so you should avoid downloading them onto your computer, as this can actually give you a virus.
Phishing emails are emails which purport to come from a certain sender, but which actually come from a different source entirely. They are designed to trick the recipient into revealing personal data about themselves or making payments to unknown sources.
The most common phishing emails will claim to be from banks, building societies and credit card companies, although Paypal and other money transfer services are also potential targets.
Remember that your bank or building society will never ask you to send your log-in details via email. If you do receive an email from your account provider, you should go onto a search engine and use this to find and access your provider’s official page (better still type it in if you know it), rather than going through the email link. Be aware that the same owner does not necessarily own a “.co.uk” web address as owns the “.com” address, so although the URL may look legitimate, it may not be owned by the company that you think owns it. Contact your email provider if you think that you have received a phishing email. Never reply to the email, as this shows the sender that your email address is an active one.
You should never enter your credit card number, debit card number or any other bank account number on a website unless you know that they website is secure. To check whether you are looking at a secure link, you should be able to see a small padlock symbol in the URL bar. If there is no symbol, or the padlock symbol appears on the site itself, rather than in the URL bar, then the chances are that it is a fraudulent site. It’s worth pointing out that many websites will not have a padlock but websites such as banking services or where sensitive data is transferred should have the padlock to let you know it is secure. You should also make sure that if the padlock is displayed then the url starts with “https:” rather than just “http:” The S represents a secure site. On some newer browsers, you should also see the name of the website turn green on the URL of secure sites.
Keeping Your Stuff Safe
Students who are heading off to university have a lot of things to worry about; where they are going to live; whether they are going to make friends; whether their existing relationships will survive; whether they will be able to find a job; whether they will like their new course; and whether they will like their new home. But do students also need to worry about arranging contents insurance to cover their possessions?
This year, insurers estimate that the average student is expected to begin the term with more than £2000 worth of equipment, including an average of 2.3 devices with wi-fi connectivity. From laptops to smartphones, students now take more things than ever with them to university, all of which are appealing to thieves. However, university accommodation is also considered to be one of the most likely targets for thieves, in part because student behaviour makes them an easier target than others.
Even if you are careful, other students can be lax with security, allowing opportunistic thieves to target university residences with ease. Therefore, if you have taken anything of value with you to university, you may want to consider insuring your possessions, so that you do have something to fall back on if the worst does happen. Whilst some university halls offer students content insurance as part of their weekly/monthly rent rates, this is by no means a universal policy, so you should never automatically assume that you are covered. Make sure that you check before you move in.
What insurance to get?
If you are renting a place, that place should have buildings insurance, so most students should only need to get content insurance. Standard level insurance policies will cover loss, theft and certain types of damage to your possessions, however there are usually major exclusions that you need to be aware of. Many policies do not include clothes, musical instruments or bikes. They also do not normally include accidental damage, such as spilling a drink on your laptop. These things can often be added on, but you may have to pay a premium.
What about using your parent’s insurance?
Some home cover policies do allow students to extend their parent’s cover to cover them whilst they are “away from home”, however you should be very wary of these options. Although they are cheaper, they are not designed specifically for student living, and therefore they may be invalidated more easily. For example, many of these insurers will not pay out if there is no sign of forced entry on the front door. This means that if one of your fellow students inadvertently lets in a thief, you may not receive anything. If you are concerned about this, it may be better to choose a student specific contents insurance policy and check the terms.
Is gadget insurance worth it?
If you have a lot of expensive gadgets, then taking out special gadget insurance could benefit you. Gadget insurance often covers a lot of things which may not be covered by your standard insurance (or worth claiming for as part of your standard insurance) such as cracks in your phone screen, water damage or damage caused by tripping over a stray laptop wire. Special insurance may also cover more expensive gadgets up to their full value, whilst standard insurance may only cover technology up to a set limit.
As with all other types of insurance, make sure that you read the terms and conditions properly, to check for exemptions. For example, some insurers do not cover second hand goods or refurbished models, even if they are purchased directly from the manufacturer.
Protect Your Property From Burglars
Student homes can be very susceptible to burglary, because opportunistic thieves often see these properties as being treasure troves with low security. Stereotypically, student accommodation is easy to get into, and once you are inside the property there is normally many pounds worth of gadgets up for grabs. If you want to reduce your chances of being targeted, you should take some basic steps to protect your personal property.
Before you move in…
When you are looking for a place to stay, consider the security features of the places that you are looking at. Ground floor flats are particularly vulnerable to break-ins. Before agreeing to move in, check that there are sturdy locks on the doors and windows. If the locks are substandard, discuss your concerns with the landlord or letting agent.
Some houses of multiple occupancy (as are used for students who want to flat share or house share) offer extra security to separate occupants by having individual locks on all of the bedrooms.
If you have extra security features, use them!
The locks and bolts on your doors and windows are there for a reason, so use them. Even if you are just going for a nap, or going into the back garden for a little while, you need to lock your doors and windows. Thieves are quick and quiet, and have been known to strike whilst people are actually at home, so don’t assume that you can leave the doors open, just because you are in. Thieves often strike when people get complacent, so it is essential that you maintain your security regime.
Keep your valuables out of sight
Leaving your valuables on show is akin to advertising your property to opportunist thieves. When you are out, leave your valuables out of sight and away from the windows. If your laptop, tablet or phone is sat on a desk near a downstairs window, a passerby can easily break the window, grab the goods and run away, all within a few seconds. Don’t make it this easy.
Likewise, don’t leave cash near an open window if your room is at street level; someone could grab it even if your back is only turned for a second. More tips on stopping thieves can be found here.
Although losing your keys is a worry, keeping a spare set near your house can be a bigger problem. Seasoned thieves know all of the most common hiding places, and they are likely to check there for keys. Flowerpot near the door? Check. Fake stone with hidden compartment? Check. Taped under the doorstep? Check. It will only take them a few minutes to hunt around, and if it is hidden somewhere near then they will use the keys to get in quickly and quietly. Worse still, if they use your spare keys to break in, your insurance may be invalidated, meaning that you can’t even claim for your lost items.
Be a cautious host
Whilst it may be fun to host huge house parties, you need to be careful about who attends and what they do whilst they are there.
If the party is advertised by open invitation on social media, then anyone may end up coming, including people who can’t be trusted. What is more, when a huge party spills out onto the street, anyone passing by can wander in. Nobody will challenge them at a big party, because they can pretend that they are just a friend of a friend. Even if they do not take anything at the time, they can take the opportunity to check out the layout of your home and the security features that you have.
You have now completed Section 3: Staying Safe