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I love this time of year. There’s an electric quality to the air and the feeling of new beginnings.

It’s move-in week on this college campus. Anticipation, fear, excitement, dread, worry—I imagine all of these emotions floating around me as families move new and returning students into dorms and apartments all over campus and around town.

I’m betting these students are getting mentally prepared for classes, studying, and making new friends. But are they prepared for possible monkey wrench—an accident—in the middle of their activities?

Everyone, regardless of student or nonstudent status, can do one thing to avoid accidents or to effectively react to such events: pay attention.

Watch for Dangers While on Foot

Watch people around you when you are walking. If you see activity that doesn’t seem normal or appropriate, move away and call the police. Don’t walk alone at night or in unfamiliar areas. Approach your vehicle with caution, even during the day. Have your keys ready, glance underneath the vehicle, and check inside. If someone is loitering near your car, walk to a place of safety, and call the police. The National Crime Prevention Council has resources for 18- to 24-year-olds.

Watch for Dangers While Driving

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a leading cause of unintentional injury deaths of people ages 15 to 44 was motor vehicle traffic.  Distracted driving was a major factor. Any activity that takes a person’s attention away from driving endangers the driver, passengers, and bystanders. Texting is at the top of the list of distracted driving activities. Put down the phone. Practice defensive driving.  Learn how from Robert Schaller’s 70 Rules of Defensive Driving.

Improve Your Chances by Paying Attention

Actions you take can help reduce your chances of adding to these statistics. Pay attention to what is happening around you. Take action to make your surroundings safe for yourself and your loved ones. Visit the Safe Kids USA, Ready.gov, National Crime Prevention Council, American Red Cross, National Safety Council, and eXtension for checklists, planning templates, fact sheets, and other materials to help you stay safe. 


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