(ARA) - It's time to start back-to-college planning, buying school supplies and preparing for move-in day at campuses around the country. Students will be living independently, meeting new friends and enjoying all that the college experience has to offer. However, young adults on their own - many for the first time - can be unfamiliar with personal safety risks, often sharing too much information and exposing themselves to a variety of security threats, including theft.
"College is a wonderful rite of passage full of important learning experiences both academic and social," says Rebecca Smith, vice president, marketing for Master Lock. "For students to get the most out of their time on campus and in the classroom, they must be aware of various safety risks they face and take the necessary precautions to safeguard not only their possessions, but themselves, as well."
Here's a list of 10 tips that college students should keep in mind as they move to campus (parents: slip this into your students' luggage.):
* Stay in touch. Share your class schedule with family and friends and arrange regular calls while walking to and from class. This way, your loved ones know you're going to class and that you're safe.
* Secure the perimeter. You wouldn't just leave the front door to your house open, would you? It works the same way on campus. Never let someone into your residence hall you don't know and never prop doors open.
* Lock it up. Whether you're simply headed to the shower or down the hall to a friend's room, lock your door every time you leave to keep all of your valuables safe when you're away. Consider purchasing individual locking devices for expensive electronics like your laptop, such as the Master Lock SafeSpace Laptop Computer Lock. With one laptop stolen every 53 seconds, according to a Gartner Group study, this visual theft deterrent can help protect your investment.
* Be safe online. In today's digital age it's too easy to share personal information online. Avoid updates on any websites that share your location or personal information and make sure your settings are private. Store your online user names, passwords, bank account and other confidential info at masterlockvault.com. This digital safe deposit box is free, secure, and convenient to use 24/7 via smart phone app or website.
* Keep track of keys. With one to open your mailbox, another for your residence hall and yet another for your room, it's tough to keep track of all of your keys, but also very important. If you lose a set, report it to your residence hall representative immediately to ensure your safety and the security of the building.
* Lock and check your car. Be sure to always lock your car and never leave any valuables in plain view. Remember to also check on it from time to time.
* Map it out. Take time to familiarize yourself with the campus. You should know where emergency phones are located, the best-lit paths to take and the safest ways to get around during both the day and night. Be aware and observant of your surroundings. Check out the services your campus offers such as evening and late night walking escorts and other safe transportation systems.
* Protect your stuff. Whether studying in the library or eating in the union, it's tempting to run to the bathroom or grab a quick snack while leaving your laptop, identification, smartphone or keys on the table. Consider investing in a portable mini-safe like the Master Lock 5900D SafeSpace that can help keep valuables safe when unattended.
* Know your numbers. Keep all important emergency phone numbers stored in your phone and at least one other place like the Master Lock Vault (in case your phone is also stolen). This includes campus security and the telephone numbers to your bank and credit card company. Should you have your wallet stolen or be put in a risky situation, you will have all the contact information you need. Also, sign up for your school alert system to be notified of emergency situations on campus via text, email or phone.
* Phone a friend. Regardless of time of day, when heading out across campus, find a friend who is also headed your way. Safety in numbers should never be discounted.
For more advice on campus safety and security, visit www.masterlock.com.