4 Tenets for Personal Safety
- Be alert and aware! - While you are walking, keep your mind on what is going on around you. Knowing who is near is the first step to being secure. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, move in the direction of other people. Listening to music or using your phone can distract you from people or vehicles around you.
- Display confidence - Walk with purpose, scan the area around you and make casual eye contact with others to display confidence. This reduces your chances of being targeted by criminals. Don't wear shoes or clothing that restricts your movements.
- Trust your instincts - If you have an intuitive feeling something is wrong, trust your instincts. React immediately and take action to reduce your risk. Many individuals suppress these feelings, because they fear their response will offend someone. React to your instincts and don't worry about someone else's feelings. If someone approaches you and you feel uncomfortable, move or ask for assistance. Call the Police immediately about all suspicious activity.
- Know how to call 911 – Become comfortable with the CATSafe app to call or message Police Services and 911. Setup Emergency SOS on your smartphone and learn how to use it! Emergency SOS allows you to press a sequence of buttons on your phone to call 911 without having to look at your phone.
WALKING, JOGGING, RUNNING Safety Tips
- Use the buddy system - Whenever possible, walk with at least one other person. If you must walk alone use the Safe Walk feature in the UVM CATSafe App and invite one or more of your friends to virtually escort you.
- Know your surroundings - Familiarize yourself with the layout of the campus. Know the neighborhoods where you live and work.
- Stay alert - Do not wear headphones/earphones if they prevent you from hearing other sounds (e.g., traffic, other people).
- Share your plan - Before you leave, consider letting someone know where you are, where you're going, the travel route you're taking, and when you expect to let them know that you've arrived.
- Stay on the path - When out at night on or around campus, choose well-lit, busy pathways and streets. Avoid alleyways or “short cuts” through isolated areas.
- Vary your routine - When jogging or running, plan your route in advance, jog/run in familiar areas, vary your route and schedule, and avoid secluded or dimly lit areas.
- Take the bus - Consider using public transportation after dark.
- Being followed? Act! - If you suspect you are being followed, indicate your suspicion by looking behind you. If you are being followed, cross the street, change direction, move quickly to the nearest group of people, and notify someone (e.g., contact UVM Police Services at 802-656-3473 or call 911). If you can do it safely, note the description of the person following you.
- Light it up - Consider carrying a small, readily available, high-intensity flashlight at night, not only is it good for lighting your way, it sends a message to others that you are prepared and not an easy target.
- Be ready to unlock - When approaching your car, residence hall, apartment, etc. get your keys/ID/phone out in advance and be aware of anyone around you.
Party and Event Safety Tips
- Stick together - Go out in groups and make a plan about getting home.
- Charge your phone - Keep your phone fully charged and know how to use CATSafe to call or text UVM Police Services and know how to make an SOS emergency call.
- Have a safe word - Have a confidential safe word or phrase that you and a trusted group of friends can use to alert each other when you are uncomfortable and want to get out of a situation.
- Guard your drink - It’s important to never let your drink out of your sight. Don’t accept one from people you don’t trust or know well. Stick to drinks you got or prepared yourself. If you go to the bathroom or step outside, take the drink with you or toss it out. It’s not always possible to know if something has been added to someone’s drink.
- Stay alert, Act! - Whether you’re at a party, impromptu gathering, or sponsored campus event, always take note of who is around you. If a situation is becoming hostile or out of control, get out as soon as possible.
- Don’t give in to peer pressure - A good way to stay safe is to stop and think about what you're doing or what you're being asked to do, and make sure that those actions align with your core values. If not, don't be persuaded by others. Don't be afraid to firmly say no if something is making you feel uncomfortable. Additionally — if you feel safe doing so — speak out if you witness suspicious behavior or a concerning situation.
- It’s okay to lie - If you want to exit a situation immediately and are concerned about frightening or upsetting someone, it’s okay to lie. You are never obligated to remain in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, pressured, or threatened. You can also lie to help a friend leave a situation that you think may be dangerous. Some excuses you could use are needing to take care of another friend or family member, an urgent phone call, not feeling well, and having to be somewhere else by a certain time.
- Be a good friend - Watch out for each other. Stick together in groups, especially when traveling from one place to the next. If a friend is acting in a way that seems out of character, take notice. If he or she is overly intoxicated or seems to need assistance, get them to a safe place and support them. If you suspect that a friend has been drugged or needs medical attention because of over-intoxication or for any other reason, contact UVM Police Services 802-656-3473 or call 911.
- Sexual Violence HOPE Works Hotline Contact 802-863-1236 - The HOPE Works hotline is available to sexual violence survivors and their loved ones. Trained advocates are there to help provide resources, referral, or to just listen.
- Vice Provost and Dean of Students Office - Sexual Harassment & Misconduct
- UVM's Office of Equal Opportunity - Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
- Mental Health Crisis: CAPS (Counseling and Psychiatry Services) on Call Counselor - For urgent mental health needs, call CAPS to schedule an appointment at 802-656-3340. An On-Call Counselor is available after hours and on weekends by calling the same CAPS number.
- UVM's Unified Reporting Portal
RESIDENCE HALL AND APARTMENT Safety Tips
- Stop tail gating - Do not let any person you do not know into the building. Persons may try to enter the door behind you, do not hold the door open for them if you do not know that they live in your building.
- Don’t prop it - Never prop open outside doors, this makes the building an easy target for crimes.
- Lock it - Do not leave any windows or doors unlocked when you leave the room.
- Document valuables - Make a list of your valuables and register applicable property with UVM Police Services.
- Burglary or Theft? Call Police! - If it looks as if your room/home has been entered without your knowledge (i.e., cut screen, broken lock), do not enter - call the police from a SAFE location.
- Alarms and locks - Invest in alarms or locks for your property.
- For more tips related to off campus living, visit the Office of Students and Community Relations.
Theft Prevention Tips
Theft prevention is about minimizing opportunities for thieves. By implementing these tips and remaining vigilant, you can reduce the risk of theft and keep yourself and your property safe.
- Lock Your Doors and Windows - Always lock doors and windows when leaving your room, office, home or car, even if you'll be away for just a few minutes.
- Install Security Systems - If you are able to, consider installing a security system with alarms, cameras, and monitoring services to deter potential thieves.
- Register your Bike - For more information about visit UVM Transportaiton and Parking Services Bikes page and scroll down to Bike Registration and Abandoned Bicycles Procedures. When locking your bicycle, use a steel "U" lock rather than a cable lock. Lock the frame and tire together to a stationary object.
- Secure Valuables:
- Never leave your purse, wallet, book bag, laptop, cell phone, earbuds, or other property unattended even for a moment in a public setting. If you must leave your property, leave it with someone you know, not a person studying or working in the area. Before you walk away from your property: “stop, think and secure.”
- Do not hang your pocketbook or bag over the back of your chair while you are in a dining establishment or other public place. Do not place your pocketbook or bag under the table out of sight.
- Keep valuable items out of sight and store them in a secure location, such as a safe or lockbox.
- Document Property - Keep an updated list of all personal property that have serial numbers, especially your personal electronics and bicycles. Please note the MAC addresses on any technology that has access to the internet. This information may help detectives with their investigation.
- Track Items - Use services like the iOS Find My app, Find my Device for Window and Google Find My Device for example to help in device recovery.
- Use Quality Locks - Invest in high-quality locks for your doors and windows. Deadbolts and sturdy window locks can be effective deterrents.
- Well-Lit Areas - Ensure that your property is well-lit, especially at night, to discourage criminals from approaching.
- Neighborhood Watch - Participate in or establish a neighborhood watch program to foster a sense of community security.
- Lock Vehicles - Always lock your car and avoid leaving valuable items in plain view. Park in well-lit areas if possible.
- Protect Personal Information - Safeguard personal information, such as credit card details and social security numbers, to prevent identity theft.
- Online Security - Use strong, unique passwords for online accounts and enable two-factor authentication to protect your digital identity.
If you are the victim of a theft, report it immediately to UVM Police Services at 802-656-3473, or you can message Police Services and share video, images, and audio from the Emergency Call/ Virtual Blue Light link of the CATSafe app.
Response: What to Do If You Have Been the Victim of a Theft
In an effort to mitigate further risk to your personal accounts consider using the following checklist. When your financial institutions receive timely notification regarding the loss of your property, they are in a better position to prevent fraudulent activity on your accounts. If you have any further questions regarding next steps to take, please do not hesitate to contact UVM Police Services at 802-656-3473.
- File a police report with UVM Police Services at 802-656-3473
- If you have any physical keys that were also stolen, inform the owner of that property so that the lock(s) may be rekeyed.
- Call your financial institutions and cancel all applicable credit and debit cards. Request new cards with new numbers to ensure the protection of your accounts.
- If your wallet contained checks, call your banking institution to receive further instructions to protect your account.
- If your health insurance card was in your wallet, call your health insurance provider and request a new card.
- Consider all of the accounts that may automatically deduct money from your accounts. Remember to update those accounts where appropriate.
- If you have any membership cards in your wallet, (i.e. gym, supermarket, etc.) notify the applicable companies and request replacement cards.
- Call the appropriate department or registry of motor vehicles and request a new license or identification card with a new number.
- Replace any applicable government issued cards such as your social security card, military identification card, or passport.
- Contact the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) and ask them to put a fraud alert on your account. If you are not applying for a job or new credit, ask them to place a freeze. They will give you a personal identification number that will be needed to lift it. After 60 days, you should run a free credit report to verify your account. For more information, please visit www.consumer.ftc.gov.
Bike Safety Tips
- Register your bike - Your bicycle represents a significant investment, in addition to a sturdy U-lock take the extra step and register your bike.
- Lock it - Never leave your bike unattended without securing it to a bike rack. Purchase a bike lock that features a steel U-lock system or a chain-link style, these are more secure. Make sure to weave your lock through the frame of the bike as well as both wheels. Small cable and code locks are not recommended, as they are easily cut or broken.
- Wear a helmet - Wearing a helmet when riding is a wise move because it's the only accessory that can make you look like a superhero while secretly hiding your bedhead. Helmets are a crucial safety accessory to protect your noggin from unexpected encounters with gravity.
- Obey traffic rules - Bicycles are considered vehicles. Follow traffic signs and signals and obey the same rules as motorists.
- Use hand signals - Signal your turns and stops to indicate your intentions to other road users.
- Stay visible - Wear bright or reflective clothing, and use lights and reflectors, especially when riding at night.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic - Always ride on the right side of the road, in the same direction as traffic.
- Stay in bike lanes or bike paths - Whenever possible, use designated bike lanes or paths for added safety.
- Be aware of blind spots - Assume that drivers may not see you, especially in their blind spots. Be cautious when passing or riding near larger vehicles.
- Avoid distractions - Stay focused on the road and avoid distractions like using a smartphone or wearing headphones.
- Keep both hands on the handlebars - Maintain control of your bike by keeping both hands on the handlebars, except when signaling.
- Check your bike - Regularly inspect your bike for any maintenance issues, including brakes, tires, and lights.
- Ride defensively - Be aware of your surroundings, anticipate potential hazards, and be prepared to react quickly if needed.
- Use proper hand braking - Learn how to use your brakes effectively to slow down or stop safely.
- Watch for parked cars - Be cautious around parked cars to avoid getting "doored" by someone opening their car door unexpectedly.
- Stay Sober - Riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs your judgment and reaction time. Avoid biking while intoxicated.
By following these bike safety tips, you can reduce the risk of accidents and enjoy a safer cycling experience. Burlington is a great biking town, with many bike lanes throughout the city, but make sure you know the rules of the road - Burlington Bike Laws FAQ.
Driving / Parking Safety Tips
- Be ready - When you walk to your vehicle, have your keys ready in your hand so you will not have to stand outside your car looking for them in your handbag or pocket.
- Check interior - Always check the rear seat and floor before you get into your car.
- Lock up - Lock the doors as soon as you get into your vehicle and keep them locked. When you exit your car lock your doors and close all windows
- Be alert - If you believe you are being followed by another car, do not lead them to your residence or parking lot. Attempt to locate an open business, or drive until you see a police car and honk your horn and lights to attract attention. Try to obtain the license number of the other vehicle to give to the police.
- Don’t risk it - Do not leave any expensive items visible to a passer-by.
- Have a parking plan - Park in a well-lit area, where you are familiar with the surrounding streets, if it is still daytime when parking pay attention to the location of lights if you might return after dark – consider getting a small high-intensity flashlight if you frequently park at night.
- If you have a Hyundai or Kia vehicle - be aware that there may be a software security update needed to prevent your car from easily being stolen. Contact a service center for more information.
If you have questions about parking, or think your vehicle has been towed, refer to Transportation and Parking Services for help.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION Safety Tips
- Be alert – Take note of your surroundings and the people around you while waiting for transportation, if you are uncomfortable move away to a safe, public location.
- Be ready to pay – Avoid opening your purse or wallet while boarding, have your pass or money already in your hand. Keep jewelry and other valuable items out of sight (for example, turn rings around so flashy stones don’t show).
- Sit up front - During off hours, ride as near to the bus operator as possible.
- Change seats - If someone bothers you or makes you feel uncomfortable, change seats. Inform the driver of the situation.
- Protect your stuff - Keep your belongings in front of you and hold them close to your body with both hands. Be alert to pick pocketers in crowded places; check your purse, wallet, phone if someone is jostling, crowding or pushing you. If you are carrying a wallet, carry it in the breast pocket of your jacket or in your side pants pocket. The rear pants pocket is one of the easiest to pick.
- Transportation and Parking Services Bus Services Information
- CATS Schedule - UVM's on campus bus system.
- CATS Shuttle Tracking - Live tracking of CATS bus locations, this link can also be accessed within the Resources button in the CATSafe app.
- Green Mountain Transit - Local area bus system that offers unlimited access for full time faculty, staff and students.
COMPUTING Safety Tips
- Secure your devices, always! – Never leave your computer, tablet, or phone unlocked and accessible to others out of your sight. Always bring your devices with you – even if studying alone in a public place and going to the bathroom – leave an inexpensive jacket or sweatshirt to “hold” your study spot and bring your computer and valuables with you to the bathroom.
- Pause before you post - Before you post, ask yourself if you are comfortable sharing this information with everyone who might see it. Content that contains personal information or your whereabouts could pose a safety risk. Even content that is deleted can sometimes be accessed by the website or through screenshots of the original post and could be used maliciously.
- Know how to report, block, and filter content – Use providers tools to report harmful comments or content, and block those who are attempting to use technology to hurt others.
- Personalize your privacy settings - Adjust your privacy settings on sites to your comfort level and select options that limit who can view your information. Think about non-traditional social media as well, such as your public transactions on Venmo or music activity on Spotify. These site-specific security pages can help you get started.
- Turn off geolocation - Many social media sites or apps will request to access your location, but in most cases this isn’t necessary. You can still get the most out of your social media experience without sharing where you are while you’re there. If sharing where you are is important to you, consider waiting to tag the location until you leave. In addition to this, some sites may automatically make geotagged information public. When you “check in” on Facebook, update your Instagram story, or add a geotag to a Snapchat, these sites may share your exact location with people you may or may not trust with it. Look at the privacy settings on the sites listed above, or others you use regularly, to see what your location settings are and consider updating them.
- Use a private Internet connection - Avoid public Wi-Fi connections, like those offered at coffee shops or airports, when using a website that asks for a password. Limit your social media usage to personal or private Wi-Fi networks, while using cellular data on your phone, or under the protection of a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
- Talk to your friends about public posts - Let your friends know where you stand on sharing content that may include personally identifying information, like your location, school, job, or a photo of you or your home. Respect each other’s wishes about deleting posts that may be embarrassing or uncomfortable. Always ask permission before you post something about another person, whether it mentions them indirectly, by name, or in a picture. To help keep track of your online presence, you can change your settings so that tagged photos of you will only appear on your profile—but won’t be shared publicly on your timeline—if you have approved the post on Facebook or other social media accounts.
- Pick strong passwords and update them frequently - This can help protect against someone who may be trying to sign on to your account for negative reasons like posting spam, impersonating you, or stalking. In addition to choosing strong passwords and updating them, remember to keep your passwords in a secure location. Consider using a trusted password management tool.
- Back it up - Keep copies of computer files in the cloud (OneDrive, iCloud, Google Drive, etc.) or a separate external hard drive to aid in recovery if devices are stolen or damaged.
- Avoid insecure downloads - Never download files or software from an unknown source.
- Report harassment or inappropriate content - If someone is making you feel uncomfortable online, you can report the interaction to the host site, often anonymously. You can use the “report” button near the chat window, flag a post as inappropriate, or submit a screenshot of the interaction directly to the host site. If you do experience harassment or abuse through social media, consider taking screenshots immediately and saving them in case the content is deleted or removed from your view. To collect evidence of harassment on Facebook, you can download your full Facebook history through the Download Your Information (DYI) feature.
- Report concerns - If you know of something related to technology at UVM that might put personal information at risk, seems contrary to policy or law, or raises ethical concerns, please report it to UVM's Information Security Office.
SOCIAL MEDIA SCAMS Safety Tips
- Don’t take the “bait” - Never click on pop-up messages, posts that contain content that seems shocking, scandalous, or too good to be true, or links or attachments in unsolicited emails and text messages.
- Create a strong password - You should never provide your password to someone you do not know.
- Confirm the website - Don’t provide your information (personal or financial) online unless you know the website you are using is legitimate, secure, and encrypted. It is also important to make sure that you are dealing with the right entity and using its real website and not a look-alike site created by a scam artist.
- Delete sketchy emails and texts - Delete unsolicited emails and text messages that request personal or account information. Companies you do business with already have this information and do not need to verify or confirm it. If there is a security breach, most companies contact their customers in writing to alert them of the breach.
- Verify the company - Contact companies only through trusted channels. If you are concerned about an email or other message you received, call the company immediately on its publicly listed phone number. Never trust the phone number or email address given in the message.
- Verify the person - Verify the person you are dealing with is who they claim to be, and not an imposter. Contact a friend or family member who could confirm the person’s story or try contacting the real person at a phone number you know is correct.
- Take a pause - Don’t be rushed into sending money immediately or secretly. Don’t send money by wire transfer, overnight delivery, or reloadable cards unless you are certain that you are sending money to a real friend or family member.
PHONE SCAM SAFETY Tips
Be aware that no government or law enforcement agency will call you to demand payment, photographs, or to alert you of warrants.
If you've given the caller any information, call UVM Police to speak with a Dispatcher. They will help you determine what steps you should take based on the information you've provided.
Here are some examples of what a phone scam caller might do or say:
- Callers typically state that they are employed by a law enforcement/government agency, that they have a warrant for the arrest of the call's recipient, and/or that the call's recipient has been engaged in criminal activity and is under investigation.
- The caller then requests photos and/or payment via electronic funds transfer (such as Western Union), threatening that the call's recipient will be arrested if they do not comply.
- The caller may also have some of the recipient's personal information, but this has been obtained from public records/sources - the caller is not a law enforcement officer and does not have access to law enforcement databases or warrant information.
EMAIL SCAM SAFETY Tips
Identifying scams can be difficult. Some scams create a sense of urgency – if you are feeling rushed to respond, take a pause and consider all the information you have. Remember you should take steps to verify who you are talking to before giving any personal information via email, phone or text.
Many email scams look very legitimate through the use of real logos and maybe even reply to addresses that look like the organization. Here are a few pointers for spotting scams.
- The text of the email may seem fairly professional but contains minor spelling and grammatical errors.
- The emails are typically unsolicited job offers, sometimes describing an alleged UVM affiliate who is reaching out for administrative help.
- The email features a hyperlink that will take you to a non-UVM site (hovering over links will show where they lead; this link will take you to the UVM homepage). Never enter your UVM credentials on a non-UVM site, even if the site appears to be reputable or contains UVM graphics.
- The offer seems like an incredible opportunity, almost like it's too good to be true (it is).
- The email asks interested parties to send personal information such as their full name, address, email, alternate email, and mobile number.
When individuals respond to these emails, the scammers typically request that victims provide instructions to purchase large numbers of gift cards and/or wire money through Western Union. If the assistants refuse, the scammers will start to make threats. If you click on a link that takes you to an unexpected site, exit your browser immediately. Use the information to report these electronic scams to UVM's Information Security Office.
Winter Weather Resources
- Winter Safety Resources Vermont.gov
- Tips for Shoveling Snow
- Winter Weather Preparedness
- Burlington Free Press "How to Survive Vermont Winter" Article from 2020
- Signing up for Vermont Alert is a great way to stay informed about weather, road closings, warming shelters and other important notifications by town, county, or statewide.
- Visit Health Vermont's Winter Weather Page for information on cold weather safety, power outages, carbon monoxide, road safety, shoveling and heart attacks, preventing falls on ice, housing and fuel assistance, and thin ice. Many of these are available in multiple languages.
- Vermont.gov Winter Weather Central
Winter Travel Resources
Larner Medical Student Council Annual Winter Driving Course
- Register for this year's course (11/02/2023, 12-1pm via zoom)
- Course information and recordings of past courses
- Trouble accessing the course? Instructions on how to secure access (PDF)
- Weather.gov Winter Travel Tips
- City of Burlington Winter Parking Info
- Vermont State Police Winter Driving Safety page
- Learn about Winter vs Summer Tires at cars.com
Take a look at the CATS Shuttle page for the shuttle schedule and info.
Check out CATS Shuttle Live Tracking to see when the next shuttle arrives.
UVM Parking and Transportation Services has put together This Page of resources regarding the local Green Mountain Transit system.
Use the GMT Trip Planner to help plan your route ahead of time and know when to expect buses.
Winter Preperations - Warmth & Fuel
Warming shelters may not be consistently advertised but information can always be obtained by calling 211 or visiting Vermont 2-1-1. There are also resources for gaining assistance with your fuel costs, weatherization services for your home, or help finding housing this winter.
Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity has a variety of resources including Housing and Weatherization, Heating Fuel and Utilities, and Outreach, Resource, and Shelter Services.