When most young people think about college, they think about freedom. College is the first time that many young adults are living away from home, able to set their own schedules and don’t have to get permission from mom or dad before going to a party or having a wild night out. But colleges, unfortunately, aren’t free from the security threats that come with living in the real world, and knowing how to keep yourself safe while living on a college campus is important. One of the most vital steps students can take is to learn about dorm room security, including being aware of the different security products available and understanding the precautions they can take to keep their dorms safe.
The best security products for your dorm room
While most dorms have basic security measures in place, like key cards and visiting hours, it’s prudent to consider purchasing a few added security measures that can make protect students’ belongings.
Dorm rooms come with foot traffic. Whether it’s a roommate’s significant other, a tutor, a resident advisor or new friends, there are bound to be lots of different people in and out of every dorm, and that’s why it’s a good idea for students to invest in a laptop lock to keep their computer safe. Laptop locks work similarly to bike locks, securing the laptop to a desk or table via a cord that can’t be disconnected without a key or combination.
The good thing about these locks is that they are relatively cheap–most are between $10-25 on Amazon–and easy to use. Most are also portable, so in addition to making a laptop safe for dorm rooms, they can also be used if students are out studying in a public place and need to step away for a minute, such as at the library or in a coffee shop. The only downside to these locks is that they may not be compatible with every brand of laptop. Before purchasing, always check the lock’s specifications to make sure it fits your laptop.
Safes for your dorm room
A safe is a great way to store valuables, like electronics or important documents, while living in a dorm room. Many small safes can easily be stored in a small cabinet, desk drawer or even underneath the bed, and having a safe provides students with an easy way to protect and keep inventory of their valuables, as well as a way to privately store personal items, like medication, they don’t want out in the open.
Depending on which type of safe you purchase, they can be expensive. Top of the line safes can easily cost between $150-300; however, there is a wide variety of safes on the market, and some cost as little as $40. Features like an electronic keypad versus a key and ports to charge electronics while they’re locked up will determine how expensive the safe is, but even a basic model will increase dorm room security.
Related: Our picks for the best safes.
A dorm room camera can be a cost-effective way to monitor who goes in and out of your dorm room. Students may choose to purchase a small desktop camera, or they might consider a peephole camera that can help them screen visitors. The benefit of a camera is that it monitors the room 24/7, without the need to spend a lot of money or purchase several different pieces of equipment. Many also work with phone apps so they can be easily monitored from far away.
While a security camera will help make the dorm safe, it’s important to get permission from roommates before investing in this security measure. It’s also a good idea to check university dorm policies to verify that these kinds of devices are allowed. If they are – we recommend checking out the Blink cameras. Their small size and easy set-up makes them ideal for dorms.
Smart Plugs & Power Strips
Fire prevention is a dorm safety tip that many people forget about. A smart plug adapter can give students the ability to remotely turn off a forgotten coffee pot or curling iron, and a power strip is useful for protecting electronics from power surges and blowouts. One thing to consider is that many smart plugs are large, so you can only use one per outlet. Many power strips also have a limit for the number of devices they can support at one time. Consider the layout of the space and the number of outlets and devices you have when purchasing these items.
Tips to help you keep your dorm room safe
While certain products can improve dorm room security, a lot of dorm room safety comes down to following simple procedures and common sense guidelines. Here are some ways students can keep a dorm safe, whether they purchase extra security products or not.
1. Lock all doors and windows
It’s all too easy to forget to lock the door while running out to class, and how often do students really inspect the windows? Upon move-in, make sure the windows are locked, and be sure to re-lock them after each use. When leaving and entering the room, double check door locks–including the bathroom lock, if it’s a shared restroom–to make sure the room is secure against unwanted visitors.
2. Don’t give out dorm keys
No one should have keys to a dorm room except for the designated occupants. While it might seem like an okay idea to share keys with a significant other or a trusted friend, there’s always the possibility that keys could get lost, duplicated or be used for nefarious purposes. Just don’t do it — it’s not worth the risk.
3. Keep track of valuables
Know which valuables are brought into the dorm and where they are stored at all times. Never leave valuables in the view of windows or shared areas and make a list of security numbers from electronic devices so you have them in the event that something is stolen and needs to be reported. It may also be a good idea to purchase a renter’s insurance policy to insure your valuables. These can typically be purchased for $15-30 per month.
4. Censor social media
Avoid sharing information about your schedule or sharing pictures that show what is in your dorm room on social media. Broadcasting this information could inadvertently let others know when you are away from your room and make you more vulnerable to theft.
Dorm room security is an important part of college safety, but luckily for busy students, keeping a dorm room secure isn’t rocket science. With the purchase of a few cheap security products and adherence to some basic safety guidelines, it’s easy to make sure the dorm is a safe space for studying, practicing self-care, building friendships, and all the other great parts of being away at college.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.