DCS has compiled a set of fundamentals you should know to keep yourself safe. Please browse through our tips and let us know if you have questions or need more information. Every effort is made to keep the campus living and learning environment safe from crime.  Prevention and safety are our priorities. 

Around Campus

Stay aware and alert of your surroundings. Keep your eyes open and trust your instincts. Immediately, report suspicious activities to Campus Safety at 481-2900.In case of emergency call 911.

In Residence Halls

Never leave the door to your room unlocked.  Do not loan your room key to anyone. Exterior doors must not be left open.  Notify your Residential Life Coordinator or Campus Safety if you notice exterior doors not locking or latching properly.

  • Out at Night - It is always safer to walk in groups and in well-lit areas.  Daylight hours are the best times to familiarize yourself with travel routes and destinations. If you feel unsafe while out alone on campus, call Campus Safety and someone will gladly escort you.  Only accept rides from people you know.
  • Your Property - Complete an inventory of your textbooks and all personal property and store these items in a safe location. Never leave any of your property unattended.  Property left unattended is vulnerable to theft. Textbooks should be marked with a security marker to protect them from theft.  This marker is available in the Department of Campus Safety. 
  • Your Vehicle - When vehicles are parked, valuables should not be in plain view. Either lock them in the trunk or take them with you. Individuals looking for valuables are less likely to be interested in your vehicle if they do not see anything of value.
  • Take turns behind the wheel. Rotating drivers can keep everyone rested with the added bonus of taking turns deciding on the music.
  • Whoever is riding as the front seat passenger should stay awake to keep the driver company. Two alert drivers are always better than one.
  • Make sure every driver has a valid driver’s license and that the vehicle registration and proof of insurance are in the car before driving off. If you are in a foreign country, know ahead of time if your license and insurance will be valid in that country.
  • These days everyone relies on their phones for navigation, but in some places, where service isn’t strong, you can lose that ability. Having a map is always a smart backup plan when on a road trip. To find a map, do a Google search for the city you are travelling to. There are a number of apps on Google Play and in the App Store that don’t require an internet connection or GPS to get to a map.
  • Never leave valuables in plain view in your car. Lock items in your trunk before reaching your destination.
  • If you are in a foreign country, take some time before heading out to familiarize yourself with basic road signs and rules of the road for that country. Travel books are great resources as are your rental car facilities.
  • If you are hailing a taxi, ask ahead for a typical price. This is especially important in countries where taxis don’t have meters. Your hotel’s Front Desk is a great resource to find out how much a ride should cost. If there is no meter, you must negotiate the fee before you agree to the ride. 
  • Before leaving your hotel, take a card from the Front Desk with the name of the hotel, phone number, and address, just in case you need help getting back. Also, put this information in your phone to be extra sure you have it.
  • Calling Uber, Lyft or a taxis service is advisable. At an airport, always use approved taxi services. Ignore people who approach you offering rides.
  • All genuine taxis will have some sort of ID or badge. You can check for this before accepting a ride.
  • Stay alert during any taxi, Uber, Lyft, etc. rides. To ensure you are going in the right direction, follow along on Google Maps or some other navigation service. 
  • Keep your belongings together during a ride to ensure you don’t leave anything behind.
  • If you ever feel unsafe, it is completely within your rights to abandon a taxi or any other ride service at a safe stop. Leave money behind on the seat and get out, if you don’t feel safe.
  • When using Uber or Lyft, you will see the driver’s name, license plate number, and photo on your phone when you request the ride. Check for a match when your ride arrives to be sure you are getting into the right car.
  • Never get in a car with a driver you suspect is intoxicated. There is always a safer alternative.
  • The often-crammed conditions of a subway or metro can be an ideal place for pickpockets to strike and is definitely a time to increase your awareness.
  • If you are going to carry a backpack, consider getting a small lock for your zipper and keep the key in your pocket. Especially in crowded areas, it might be safer to carry your backpack on your front instead of your back.
  • When you check in at the Front Desk, use discretion in saying your room number out loud enough to be overheard by others in the lobby to hear. No one outside of your group of friends needs to know your room number. 
  • Reserve a room that’s above the 1st floor but below the 6th floor. First floor rooms are easier to break into and rooms above the sixth floor are sometimes too high for fire ladders to reach.
  • Choose awareness! Make a mental note of where the nearest fire exits and stairwells are located in case you need to evacuate.
  • When you get to your room, check that all of the window and door locks are secure.
  • Almost all hotels offer safes. Use them! This is a great place to store any cash or credit cards and any other easy to steal items such as IPad, IPod, jewelry, laptops, backup ID (DL or passport) that you don’t want to have on hand when you are out of the hotel.
  • Close your door tightly when entering or leaving your room. Some doors have a slow release and could remain open after you enter or leave.
  • Do not place ski gear, dive gear, or anything valuable on your balcony.
  • Using the Do Not Disturb sign won’t prevent housekeeping from being able to enter your room but will highly reduce the likeliness of that happening. If you are going to have housekeeping in your room, leave your valuables in the safe, if you will not be in the room.
  • Try to go the ATM in groups, but also avoid getting overly complacent about safety just because you are not alone. 
  • When you approach the ATM, do a full 360-degree scan, looking completely around you to see if anyone is hanging out where they shouldn’t be. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, leave and go to another ATM.
  • When entering in your pin number, use your other hand or your body to cover the keypad. Just because you don’t see someone watching you doesn’t mean there couldn’t still be a camera capturing what you type.
  • In the state of Florida, you must be 21 years of age to drink alcohol.
  • Do us all a favor, especially yourself, and party smart. Be responsible.
  • Decide before you go out what your limit will be. When you are sober and making clear-headed decisions is the best time to consider what you feel your personal boundaries should be. Do I want to drink tonight? If so, how much? Do I want to have sex tonight? If so, do I have protection? Deciding up front will make it easier for you to make choices later that you will be happy with after the party is over.
  • If you do decide to drink, know the liquor laws of wherever you are.
  • Always keep an eye on your drink. If you go the bathroom, take your drink with you! Date rape drugs can be put into any drink, including non-alcoholic drinks. It is also important to remember that while drugs being slipped into drinks is something you should be aware of and guard against, alcohol itself is the most common date rape drug. In a 2007 study by the National Institutes of Health, it was reported that 89% of female undergrad sexual assault survivors reported drinking before their assault. No survivor is to blame for an assault, but the connection between alcohol and victimization is real and cannot be ignored.
  • Do not drink from open beverage sources like punch bowls, pitchers or tubs.
  • If you or one of your friends sees or feels the signs of predatory drugs: extreme wooziness, confusion, difficulty standing, or slurred speech, get to a safe place immediately and, if the symptoms are severe, go to a hospital.
  • Drinking and driving is always a dangerous combination and illegal. Before you go out make a plan for an alternative and safe way to get home. Having a designated driver before the night starts can be great for driving smartly and for keeping an eye out for everyone as well.
  • Avoid binge drinking. NIAAA (the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours. Binge drinking can lead to irreversible consequences.
  • Pace yourself if you choose to drink. If you are new to drinking or have very limited experience, a party setting away from home isn’t the best place to start figuring out your limits. When pacing yourself, remember that while you can feel the effects of alcohol in as little as 10 minutes, sometimes it can take longer. So, go slow and see how you feel before ordering a second drink.
  • Don’t try to match friends drink for drink. The way alcohol affects your body will be different than everyone else based on how often you drink, what kind of alcohol, your weight, and how much food is in your system. 
  • Eat before drinking. Drinking on an empty stomach can cause alcohol to affect you much quicker and can make you sick. Bowls of snack mix aren’t a substitute for real food. 
  • Be aware that some types of alcohol have stronger and faster effects (i.e., one beer is not going to have the same impact as one Long Island Tea). A standard drink in terms of consumption is 12 ounces of beer, but only 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
  • Some of the most common side effects of alcohol usage are reduced inhibition, slurred speech, motor impairment, confusion, and memory and concentration difficulties. In other words, you aren’t going to be at your most aware when drinking and this can make you a target for criminals. Is this fair? No. Is it your fault? Never. However, if criminals are looking for someone to steal something from or to harm, they would have to choose between someone who is obviously intoxicated or someone who is not. The choice is simple. This applies to all forms of crime, including sexual assault.
For this reason, when drinking, it is even more important to follow the golden rule of partying safe: Come with your friends. Leave with your friends. We need to look out for each other. As long as it’s safe to do so, if you ever see someone who is not in your group in a potentially bad situation, look out for them, too. If it’s not safe for you to intervene, get help. Being an active bystander is the best way we can work together to end violence of all kinds.
  • Drinking + sun can equal a bad sunburn and an even worse a hangover. Sun can intensify the effects of alcohol so keep this in mind when you party poolside or at the beach. Alcohol can also make you take unnecessary risk in the water. 
  • Take it slow and stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. If you start feeling faint or light-headed, find some shade and drink water immediately.
  • Use waterproof sunscreen at least SPF 30 and reapply often. Pay extra special attention to ears, nose, face, feet, and shoulders.
  • Avoid sun exposure during the hours when UV rays are the most intense (between 10 am and 4 pm) and remember your skin can burn even when it’s cloudy.
  • Jumping into the ocean without a lifeguard nearby is putting yourself at risk. Always swim with a buddy. Even the most experienced swimmer can get caught in a rip current (undertow). If you are caught in a rip current, don’t bother swimming against it. Instead, swim parallel to the shore until the rip passes.
  • In any natural body of water, be aware that you can’t always tell how deep the water is. Don’t dive if you don’t know for sure how deep the water is. Diving into shallow water can lead to serious accidents and even death.
  • Know the flag system for water safety:
    • Red Flag: Stay out of the water because of strong undertow and riptides.
    • Yellow Flag: Use CAUTION in the water. Undertow and riptides are possible.
    • Blue Flag: Calm water. Swim safely.
  • Drinking in the hot tub might sound like a good idea, however, it is not! Alcohol can dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. The effects of alcohol are felt sooner and stronger in a hot tub. It can lead to unconsciousness and drowning.
  • If you’re leaving the country, you’ll need a passport. You might also need a Visa depending on your destination. These are not quick and easy documents to attain, so file your application at least 6 months before going on a trip abroad.
  • Safety has a lot to do with what you pack when traveling abroad. Don’t bring flashy valuables like expensive jewelry or watches.
  • Do your destination homework beforehand, keeping in mind you will be subject to the laws of the country you visit. For any travel alerts and advisories by the US government, go to travel.state.gov.
  • Do not carry large quantities of cash. ATMs are everywhere. If you travel with mostly cash, always keep part of your cash in your hotel safe and the rest of it in two locations on your person. That way, if you are mugged or robbed, you won’t lose everything.
  • Take at least two credit cards or debit cards with you. Keep one on your person and one in the hotel safe. Make photocopies of the front and back of all cards and keep the copies either in your safe or with someone at home. If your card is stolen or lost, you will be able to cancel the card much more easily.
  • You will always want to have ID on you whenever you are on the go in a foreign country. Backup ID should be left in your hotel safe. If you do lose your original forms of ID, you can use your back up ID to help you get replacements through the US Embassy.
  • Be aware of local scam artists. The best way to avoid scams is to know some common ones ahead of time. These two sites list many of the common scams:  https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/avoid-travel-scams/ and https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/travel-tips/travel-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them
  • Always inform others of your travel plans, including hotel and contact information while you are away. Give someone back at home a copy of your passport just in case yours is lost or stolen. This will help you if you have to get a replacement passport from the US Embassy.
  • If you are mugged or robbed, remember that the only thing irreplaceable is you.
  • If you carry a camera, separate from your phone, keep it hidden until you are ready to use it.
  • Avoid viewing maps in wide-open spaces. This could signal to criminals that you are a tourist or lost.
  • Do not take shortcuts. Stay on well-traveled streets.
  • Check accessory requirements, if any, for your phone before you leave the US. In case of an emergency, you need to be sure you will be able to use your phone.
  • Learn the customs before you go and a few common phrases if you are headed to a destination where the primary language is not English. Knowing how to say: “Hello,” “Thank you,” “Please,” “How Much,” “Where is” . . . will go a long way to making your experience a positive one.
  • Know the local equivalent to 911. Who do you call in an emergency?