Staying Safe in a College Apartment

Home security tips for off-campus apartments


DECEMBER 29, 2021


One of the hardest things for parents is watching children leave the nest. Their first years of college, when they’re living in dorms, may offer some solace. But when it comes time to consider the advantages and disadvantages of living off-campus, it can take stress up a notch. What are the best security devices to keep your child safe?

We’ve gathered some home security tips for your student living in an apartment during college, as well as some recommended Brinks Home™ products to keep your young adult safe as an upperclassman or graduate student.

Protect personal information

Remind your child to safeguard personal details such as PIN numbers, Social Security information, passwords, or other sensitive information that someone could use to break into their home or steal their identity.

Instill safe social media practices

One of the easiest ways to gain intel on someone is through their social media accounts. Remind your student not to post pictures that clearly identify their surroundings. A simple selfie with background details, such as an apartment number, a nearby landmark, or their car’s license plate, can give away their whereabouts. It’s also not a good idea to post images of or tag any locations they frequent like restaurants, bars, parks, libraries, or shopping centers.

Know their schedule

In addition to keeping a copy of their class schedule, you should also know when they leave their apartment or house for class, what route they take, whether they’re walking or driving, and what time they plan to return. Encourage your student to share their schedule with you, close friends, or their school adviser.

Travel safely

Reinforce the tried-and-true rules: Never talk to strangers, and always have a buddy. If your child lives near other students, encourage them to establish a walking group or carpool, and discourage them from walking solo at night or traversing dimly-lit areas. Recommend that they stick to the college’s shuttle service or public transit, and ask campus security for an escort when necessary. Moreover, they should never travel alone with someone they just met, ride with anyone under the influence, or drive after consuming alcohol.

Use caution when approaching a car

We often get in the car while texting or talking on the phone, which can cause an accident or make us more vulnerable to thieves. Instruct your college student to look in their backseat and under the car before getting in. Remind them to roll up all windows and lock all the doors when they leave their car, remain alert at all times, and have car keys ready so they’re not fumbling through a backpack or purse.

Keep everything locked down

Even if they’re only leaving for a quick errand, instruct them to lock their home’s doors and even their individual room if they have a key and are sharing living space. They should also lock windows and draw blinds and curtains before they depart. Incorporate a contact sensor on personal drawers, doors, or closets, so an alarm will alert your student should someone go snooping. Add in a laptop lock and a small safe to store valuables.

Have an escape route

Your child should be aware of their surroundings at all times and know where emergency exits are wherever they may be. Advise them to have at least two escape routes in their home—the main door, a back door, and maybe passageway through a back window. This way, they will know the best direction in which to head in case of a fire, break-in, or mishap.

Select the right apartment

Sure it’s tedious to complete a lengthy application, but this confirms your child’s landlord screens potential tenants and ensures their neighbors probably aren’t troublemakers. In addition to asking the landlord questions about the property, also ask other tenants about the complex. Is it quiet? Have they experienced any crime? Do the landlords address any maintenance issues in a timely fashion? If your college student has their pick of off-campus apartments, steer them toward a higher-floor unit. It’s a pain to lug groceries upstairs, but higher floors tend to be less susceptible to break-ins.

Help them choose the right roommate

Even if your child does everything right, a risky roommate could still lead danger to their door. Here are some questions they should ask potential roommates:

  • What are your expectations for living together?

  • What do you want out of a roommate relationship?

  • Do you drink often, smoke, or use drugs?

  • Do you like to stay out late?

  • How often do you host guests?

  • Can you provide at least three references?

  • Would you be willing to sign a roommate agreement?

During the interview, your student should establish house rules and a trial period so if things go sideways, they aren’t locked in. It’s also acceptable to run a background check on potential roommate candidates.

Install adequate security Since your college student will likely come and go throughout the day, consider installing a security system with indoor and outdoor cameras and a SmartCode Wireless Keypad Leverlock linked to the  Brinks Home™ Mobile App, so they can inspect their home inside and out before returning or check outside via smartphone. Remember to check in with your landlord about whether home monitoring devices are allowed and, if not, how the landlord secures the space otherwise. Make sure to check for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and consider adding wireless door and window sensors, motion sensor lights, and a video doorbell for enhanced safety and security.

Visit the Brinks Home blog for more home safety topics, such as securing a ground-floor apartment or tips for college students to keep their belongings safe.

Jason Stevens is a senior writer for Brinks Home. He is a "tech guy" who enjoys sharing home security and automation tips with others.

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