Top 10 Crime Prevention Tips for Students

  • Lock your bedroom door when you go out.
  • Check doors and windows are locked at night or when going out – don't assume someone else will do it.
  • Make a list of your personal property including the serial number and descriptions. You can use an ultra-violet pen to mark electrical and other items with your post code or other unique form of identification.
  • Think ahead! Don't walk home alone late at night – arrange in advance to stay with a trusted friend or pre-book a taxi.
  • Never leave drinks unattended in pubs or clubs. Men's drinks get spiked too. Try to only have drinks in bottles and keep your thumb over the top when walking around.
  • Don't show off your cash, mobile phone or laptop. Don't leave them lying around for people to see and take. Keep your credit card safe.
  • When using a cash machine, try to use it in daylight or well lit areas. Be wary of people standing too close and conceal your PIN number when you type it in.
  • Always lock doors, windows, the boot and sunroof when leaving your car, even if its only for a few minutes.
  • Never leave belongings in your car – even an old coat could tempt a thief if they think if they think there might be something of value in the pockets. If you have to leave anything, lock it in the boot.
  • Keep your car topped up with petrol and try to park in busy well lit areas.

Home security

Home security is the best way to reduce your chances of being burgled. A lot of burglaries are opportunistic, as a potential burglar sees an open window or other easy point of entry.

When you have moved into your property, improve your home security by acting on the following points:

  • Ask the landlord/lady to install window locks, especially on older windows.
  • If you have deadlocks, (i.e. those that require a key to open them from the inside as well as the outside) use them. It makes it more difficult for burglars to get in and out again. Don't leave the key in an open or obvious place.
  • If you have an alley at the back of your property make sure that the gate is securely locked. Alleyways give burglars easy and unseen access to your property.
  • Join your Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
  • Don't leave spare keys outside, or in a garage or shed. Keep keys indoors and out of sight.
  • During the Christmas, Easter and Summer vacations, when your property is likely to be empty, take valuables such as computers and stereos home.

Safety on the street

Carry a personal attack alarm. You can pick one up from the Advice and Representation Centre for £1. Check it regularly to make sure it still works.

If you regularly go jogging or cycling, try to vary your route and time. Stick to a well lit pavement. If you listen to music when you walk home or go for a run remember that you can't hear traffic, or somebody approaching you from behind.

Self defence classes and safety awareness may help you feel safer and boost your confidence. Skills Training run self defence classes so why not give it a go?

Visit the Avon & Somerset Police website for further information.

 

Harassment

Feeling secure in your own home is important and so is knowing where to go for help should you need it.

Harassment in this context can include anything done by a landlord/ lady that interferes with your occupation. It also takes place when your landlord/lady tries to get you out of their property without going through the proper channels. The law says that if you are suffering harassment, you can get an injunction to stop it, as well as compensation.

However, it is not always that straight forward and many tenants have had their lives made a misery without being able to get anybody to accept that they are being harassed.

If you come home to find your belongings out on the street, or the locks changed on the door, it may be obvious that you are being harassed (this can be legal with a resident landlord/lady). But landlords/ladies do not always have to use such obvious methods to push you out and you are still entitled to protection whatever form the harassment takes.

Any of the following types of action by your landlord/ lady could be harassment:

  • Refusing to allow you access to parts of your accommodation or only allowing it at certain times.
  • Stopping you from having guests.
  • Constant visits from either your landlord/ lady or their agent(s), visits late at night, visits without warning.
  • Offering you money or threatening you.
  • Entering your home when you are not there and without permission.
  • Allowing the property to get into such a bad state of repair that it is dangerous or uncomfortable for you to stay there, or starting building works and then leaving them unfinished.
  • Sending builders in without any notice or at unsociable hours.
  • Removing or restricting services such as hot water or heating.
  • Changing locks.
  • Moving in "stooge" tenants who cause nuisances such as loud music.
  • Forcing tenants to sign agreements that reduce their rights.

Racial or Sexual Harassment

If you are suffering racial or sexual harassment, or want to know more you should seek advice through the Advice and Representation Centre.

Illegal Eviction

As a tenant, you have certain security of tenure. In short, this means that you cannot be forced to leave your home without a court order. Any attempts to evict you without such an order is illegal and as such a criminal offence.

This applies even if you have rent arrears or have breached the tenancy agreement in another way.

Stone King Solicitors take referalls from the Advice and Representation Centre regularly for free legal advice.

Reporting an incident

If you are being harassed, discriminated against or bullied, make sure you report the incident.

You can find more information on harassment on the student life pages.

Alarm systems

  • Make sure you can hear the alarm
  • Smoke detectors should be connected to the mains with a battery back-up in case of power failure
  • Only activate the alarm system in an emergency

Smoke alarm maintenance

Your smoke alarms are a vital protection from the danger of fire in your home. They provide an early warning of danger, giving your household precious time to get out of your home quickly.

See a guide as to what your landlord is responsible for if you are living in privately rented accommodation. A simple maintenance plan will ensure that your smoke alarm continues to protect your household. Make sure all your alarms are fitted according to the manufacturers or Fire Brigade instructions:

One-year battery alarms (Optical & Ionisation)

  • Test the alarm each month by activating test facility
  • Gently remove dust and dirt from inside the casing and on the cover
  • Make sure the grilles on the cover are not obstructed
  • Change the battery annually, even if it is not emitting a low power warning
  • Always use a high quality battery

10-year lithium battery alarms (Optical & Ionisation)

  • Make sure the unit is kept clean and the grilles are unobstructed
  • Test it every month
  • Replace the unit at the end of lifespan

Mains powered units with battery back-ups

  • The installation of this type of system should only be carried out by qualified and competent electricians
  • Test the system every month
  • Keep the unit clean and dust free (switch off first)
  • Make sure the grilles are kept clear
  • Replace the battery according to the manufacturers recommendation

Smoke alarms should be fitted at least 30cm (12") away from any wall or light fitting and close to the centre of the room. Care should be taken to fit them where you can hear them particularly when you are asleep.

Shared or rented housing

When you are thinking about moving into shared or rented accommodation, fire safety may not be a priority. However, there can be lethal dangers present.

  • All electrical wiring should be safe
  • There should be a basic fire warning system
  • The escape route should be free from obstacles and materials that burn easily
  • Means of escape and fire precautions should be in good repair
  • You should be able to open exit doors without a key
  • There should be fire extinguishers and fire blankets in shared kitchens
  • Furniture and furnishings should be fire resistant and in good repair
  • Has your landlord arranged an Electrical Installation safety check lately? Is there an annual visual check of socket outlets, switches and lampholders etc.?

Look for danger signs:

  • Hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow for no reason, flickering lights, scorch marks on plugs or sockets, bare wiring
  • Make sure sockets are not overloaded. One socket - one plug. Unwind extension leads fully
  • Turn off as many electrical appliances as you can before you go to sleep and close doors
  • Check your landlord has a maintenance programme for gas heaters and appliances. Chimneys and flues should be cleaned regularly

Kitchen safety

Overheated oil or fat in chip pans, deep fat fryers or grill pans are the main cause of kitchen fires. A moment's distraction and you could find yourself with a serious fire.

Safe Cooking

  • Never fill a pan more than one third full of oil or fat
  • Never leave the pan or grill unattended, when the heat is switched on
  • Never put food in a chip pan if the oil begins to smoke
  • Turn off the heat and leave the oil to cool, otherwise it can catch fire
  • Clean hobs regularly to prevent a build up of fat which can catch fire
  • Drinking alcohol and cooking is a mix that can end up in disaster.

If a Pan Does Catch Fire

  • Do not move it - it could cause burns which last a lifetime
  • Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so but never lean over the pan to reach the cooker controls
  • Never throw water on it, this will only make it worse
  • Close the kitchen door on your way out. CALL THE FIRE BRIGADE - they are professionals and have the protective clothing and equipment to tackle the fire safely

Heaters

Heaters regularly cause deaths in the home. Most accidents happen because we sit too close to them or stand them too close to clothing or other items in the room. We also leave them on all night. Electric space heaters are involved in most accidents while gas, solid fuel and LPG gas heaters also carry a high risk.

Follow these simple rules for safe use:

  • Make sure all heaters are well clear of furnishings
  • Never use aerosol sprays near a space heater
  • Take care with timing devices
  • Try to sit at least 1m (3') away from the heat source
  • Buy heaters from reputable dealers

Radiant Fires

  • Use a fireguard, permanently if you have young children
  • Don't dry laundry by the fire
  • Wall mounted fires should be 1m (3') away from furnishings or doors

Storage Heaters/Fan Heaters/Convection Heaters

  • Don't cover air grilles
  • Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture by 8cm (3")

Solid Fuel Heaters

  • Always follow instructions for use
  • Keep your heater clean, brush out flue passages monthly
  • Have your chimney swept annually

Gas Fires

  • A CORGI registered installer should carry out installation and maintenance
  • Ventilation is essential. Never block or obstruct a vent
  • Do not turn any electrical switches on or off if you smell gas
  • When changing gas cylinders, do not open the valve on the new cylinder until it is properly connected

Candles

Fires happen when candles are in use because:

  • They are left unattended. We fall asleep without putting them out
  • We don't use the right kind of holders
  • We put them too close to clothing and furnishings

These simple tips will help you to use candles safely:

  • Tealights and nightlights in foil containers need to be placed in another suitable holder as they can melt through plastic materials
  • Be careful not to use nightlights in oil aromatherapy burners
  • Never leave a burning candle or oil burner in a child's bedroom
  • Keep candles out of draughts and away from furnishings and clothing
  • Keep candles and matches or lighters out of the reach of children
  • When re-lighting candles trim the wick and extinguish it if it starts to smoke
  • If using more than one candle allow 100mm between each one
  • Never burn a candle right down into the holder
  • You increase the risk of fire or injury if you move a candle while it is lit
  • Always put votive and scented candles in a glass or metal holder as they liquefy to release their fragrance
  • Be aware of the risk to clothing when celebration candles are in use
  • In the garden, keep children and pets away from garden candles and lanterns

Fire Extinguishers

If you are aware of a fire in your home you must get everyone out as quickly as possible and call the Fire Brigade. Even in its early stages the fire can develop and spread very quickly. You may feel that you are able to deal with it yourself, but if you are in any doubt - DO NOT TACKLE THE FIRE - no matter how small it is. Always put yours and other people's safety first. Ensure that someone calls the Fire Brigade. Do not move the object on fire.

If you choose to install and use fire extinguishers follow these guidelines.

  • Make sure that British Standards are conformed to and that it carries a Kitemark or British Approvals for Fire Equipment mark
  • Do not place them over cookers, heaters or other extreme heat sources
  • Always follow manufacturer's instructions when using and siting extinguishers
  • Never use water on fat pan fires or electrical fires
  • Do not use extinguishers on chip or pan fires as the jet from the extinguisher may force burning fat out of the pan

Colour Identification

Always check manufacturer's instructions for the type of fire appropriate for each fire extinguisher. Follow operating instructions carefully.

The following types of fire extinguishers are available:

  • STANDARD DRY POWDER - Red with Blue Zone
  • MULTI PURPOSE DRY POWDER - Red with Blue Zone
  • WATER - Red
  • AFFF(Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (Multi Purpose)) - Red with Yellow Zone
  • FOAM - Red with Yellow Zone
  • CARBON DIOXIDE CO2 - Red with Black Zone
  • FIRE BLANKETS Look for the British Standard mark ( BS 6575) and follow the maker's instructions for positioning and for use.