A crowd of high school and college students and their parents met for the College Safety 101 course hosted by the Coppell Fire Department in the Life Safety Park on Monday evening, July 30. Sergeant Kevin Crawford, a University of North Texas community relations officer, discussed safety information about the transition into college living and beyond.
“First of all, you need to understand that personal safety starts with you. The reality is police can’t be everywhere to protect you all of the time,” Crawford said. “You can’t count, necessarily, on others to be the reason you’re safe. You’ve got to do things yourself.”
Crawford addressed many of the common safety concerns of living alone in a college environment, encompassing things from sexual assault to active shooter situations, through the topic of drug and alcohol abuse.
“Trust your instincts,” Crawford said. “If the situation feels wrong, if your spidey senses are going off, ask yourself ‘what can I do to be safer?’ Maybe you change directions and walk away from that person. Maybe you go walk up to some people you feel are safe people, and say something like, ‘Hey, that person is making me a little nervous, do you guys mind if I walk with you guys now?’”
Much of the advice given in Sergeant Crawford’s presentation offered simple, practical ways for everyone to proactively improve upon their personal safety habits.
“Show confidence in yourself. When we’re talking about your average criminal, we’re not talking about Ocean’s 8, right?” said Crawford. “Typically what they’re doing is looking for easy targets. People that aren’t paying attention as they walk around campus. People who’ve got their head down like they’re scared and shy, versus the person who stands upright and looks around, makes eye contact and says, ‘I see you, I know you’re there, leave me alone.’ I can’t stress it enough to you, stay alert of your surroundings.”
Crawford also discussed personal safety tools, such as tasers and stun guns, before sharing his thoughts on why flashlights offer the most effective and beneficial option.
“The flashlight is actually the number one device I recommend. Studies have shown being aware of the danger and being able to identify that danger is enough to potentially protect yourself,” Crawford said. “I can clearly, from a distance, see that strange person or I see that situation. If I feel unsafe, I can light up the whole space and see that, ‘Hey, you’re there and I’m not going to be there. I’m going over here.’
“If they insist on coming at you, this flashlight has a nice little button you double tap for the strobe function. You don’t see things clearly anymore, and you start to get disoriented, developing headaches and nausea. All of that can be done from a distance, which is why I recommend a flashlight the most.”
The College Safety 101 course is just one area focused upon by Life Safety Park.
“The Life Safety Park is an educational facility that is part of the Coppell Fire Department and our entire goal is to educate the public on fire and life safety topics,” Jeana Lantiere, manager of Life Safety Park, said. “We reach the public in various ways, and one of those ways is by working with Coppell ISD. The kids come out here with their class, and we have a different curriculum based on the different age levels, so that they can come out each year and learn a different life safety topic.”