Your baby has finally grown up, well almost. They’re starting college and are going to be living away from home, probably for the first time. Before they head off into the big wide world don’t forget to pass on some tips on staying safe both in their new home and when they’re out and about.
Safety inside their new home
First things first, make sure all their stuff is security-marked. Not only will it make it less attractive to thieves but it’ll also be a lot easier for police to track. So, however much they resist, get your child to add their student ID number and the name of their college on any valuable items, such as laptops, mobile phones, iPods, game consoles, etc.
When students first move away from home, they often start off in halls of residence or university accommodation, which could give them a false sense of security. They might be tempted to leave the door to their study bedroom open if they’re just popping down the corridor to chat to a friend.
It’s up to you to make them realise that their possessions aren’t safe unless they’re locked away. Burglars often target college residences and with so much portable, expensive kit in every study bedroom it’s hardly surprising. This is why students need to get into the habit of always locking their door when they’re out.
A common problem with university accommodation is that it can get very hot. Communal heating is usually turned up high even if it’s mild outside, so students leave their bedroom windows open. If your child’s study bedroom is on the ground floor remind them to close and lock the window when they go to sleep, otherwise a burglar could easily climb inside. And even if the room is on a higher floor, explain why closing and locking all windows when they go out is so important – the grounds may be patrolled but you still don’t know who might wander onto the site undetected.
When it comes to privately-rented accommodation, security is more of an issue. It may be that your child goes to a city university, in which case they need to know the sort of neighbourhood they’re in and its risks. What’s more, as well as looking after their own room they’ll have the added responsibility of making sure the property is safe. It’s an idea for them to sort this all out before they move in. You could help put together a list of questions to ask landlords when they’re house-hunting, especially about the kind of locks the doors and windows of the property has – most insurers require a mortice deadlock or rim lock conforming to British Standard 3621. Other steps like fitting a timer switch, which comes on at certain times if they’re out for the night, and leaving a radio or TV on could put off would-be burglars who are scouting the area.
Staying street smart
Today’s students often carry around laptops, mobiles, game consoles and MP3 players. That’s why they need to be extra careful, whether they’re in a lecture hall, the library or surfing the web in a coffee shop. Remind them to keep all their expensive items in sight and to check that their bag or rucksack is properly fastened. If they leave anything unattended it could disappear – a few seconds is all it takes for a thief to relieve you of a mobile, laptop or whatever it is they have their eye on.
Teach them some personal safety tips too. The number one rule is ‘safety in numbers’, which is why they should avoid walking home alone after dark – it’s when we’re all at our most vulnerable. Likewise, making phone calls or pulling out MP3 players or iPods to change tracks makes you an easy target for thieves because you’re distracted. So whether it’s day or night, advise them to keep valuables like mobiles out of sight as much as possible when they’re out and about.
Cover for student belongings
Of course, however careful your child is, there’s still the chance that they will be the victim of a burglary or robbery, so contents insurance is something worth thinking about. You may be able to add their contents to your contents insurance policy. If you’re a Churchill policyholder, contact us to find out.
For home and contents insurance for you and your children, get a home insurance quote from Churchill.