Heading home for winter break becomes something of a ritual for many college kids. Students finish their exams, say goodbye to their friends for a few weeks, and prepare for a return to doing chores, coming home before their parents’ curfew, and sleeping in.
But, all too often, students head home without realizing the best way to protect the things they’re leaving behind. When locking the doors and closing the blinds aren’t enough, here is a list of college winter break safety tips to help your son or daughter leave any worries about their apartment behind:
A favorite of homeowners, this is a tactic that works for apartment dwellers, as well. Connect lights, the radio and even the TV to an automatic timer that can be used to vary the on/off pattern of interior lights when your child is away.
If your son or daughter is going home for an extended period of time, a friend or neighbor can help pick up the mail, park a car in the driveway or even shovel some snow—all creating the appearance that someone is home.
If your son or daughter lives with other students, a good security tip is to discuss who will be leaving last, and then make sure that person is willing and able to double-check all windows and doors, turn on any automatic timers and put away or cover up any common-area valuables, such as gaming systems or big-screen TVs.
In cold-weather areas, pipes can freeze, crack and cause water damage. If they don’t have a flood alarm, talk with your college students about ways they can safeguard their home or apartment by keeping the heat inside their temporarily unoccupied apartment to at least 58 degrees. Also, windows should be completely closed; a one-inch opening near a pipe can be enough to cause it to freeze and break.
Students who are carpooling home and leaving their vehicle back at school for winter break should park in a well-lit area or secure location and remove all valuables (GPS, small electronics, etc.) from the car. Talk to them about electing a friend who is staying behind at school to start the car, so that it’s not sitting idle.
Students should consider taking small items, such as personal safes, jewelry boxes, electronics and laptops, home with them during college winter break. If they must leave items of value behind, recording the serial numbers, brand names and date and price of purchases, and will help authorities identify their property in the event of a theft or a natural disaster.
Many students like to come back to school after winter break with a memento or special reminder from their homes. All too often, these reminders have a certain priceless value attached to them. Explain to your children that they shouldn’t bring anything back to school that they can’t afford to live without.
Of course, not everyone goes home for college winter break. If your son or daughter is enrolling in a winter session or chooses to stay on campus, be sure they do so with extra precaution. Campus crowds and campus security may be a little light during this time, so added awareness is imperative. [Originally published 12/20/12]
Frank Rivera is the director of digital marketing for ADT Security Services.