As a parent, sending your child off to college can be terrifying. You may have constant worries about ensuring that your pride and joy leaves the nest in the safest and happiest way possible. While not everything is in your control during the college years, we can offer you some peace of mind with these recommendations for top safety features to look for in your student’s off-campus apartment.
Keyless Entry & Keycards
One feature that apartments in Gainesville have been increasingly implementing is the use of key cards and keyless entry in student apartments. This can be present in several different forms:
- Many apartments have long used key cards to allow entry into communal spaces such as printing labs, laundry rooms, and the gym. Residents are given a key card to scan at the door to these spaces to enter. The lock on the door allows residents entry using a security token present in the card that admits cardholders into the electronically powered door. If residents lose this communal key card, they can typically either pay for a replacement, supply proof of residency to the front office, or rely on a roommate for entry.
- A modern feature that several new apartments in Gainesville have begun to offer is keyless entry into specific apartments and/or hallways. In this system, as opposed to carrying a physical key, apartment doors can be unlocked using several electronic options. The most common forms are either a code on a pin pad, an app, or an electronic means of unlocking the apartment such as the key card described above.
Keyless entry and keycards enhance the safety of an apartment in many ways, the most obvious being that it is more difficult to break into an apartment that utilizes keyless entry as there is no physical key to steal or duplicate. Residents also do not have to worry about leaving a spare key under the mat to get in in the case that they forget their key, as they always can get in with their electronic means of entering. Keycards on communal living spaces also ensure that only residents and their guests can enter apartment community spaces.
Gated Apartment Entry
Another common safety feature present in apartments for UF students is the use of gates at apartment entrances. Gated communities provide residents with an increased sense of safety and control over their living space and reduce the risk of non-residents and solicitors entering the apartment grounds. There are two major types of gates typically present at apartments:
- Gates with keypads, in which each resident has a customized password to use to enter the complex. This code can also be given to guests of residents, which makes it relatively easy for one to have friends and family visit in a safe manner. All guests and residents have to do to get in is press the code into the keypad.
- Gate boxes, which typically include a list of residents that those entering the complex can scroll through. Once guests enter in a name, the box usually auto-dials the phone number of this resident to allow them to decide if the person requesting access can enter. Due to the phasing out of landlines, this is typically a cellphone number and so provides the benefit of residents being able to allow guests entry from any location.
Several apartments in Gainesville offer alarm systems, which are an easy and convenient way for residents to feel like they and their belongings are safe. Alarm systems can come in several forms, with some complexes including a monthly monitoring fee in rent, some providing systems that can be set up for an additional fee, and others providing support for private alarm systems.
Security on the Premises
Many apartments near UF offer security patrols that monitor the grounds of the complex, especially at night or times when management is not present. These security guards, also known as courtesy patrols, often patrol for suspicious activities, large parties, solicitors, car break-ins, and more depending on the area.
Apartments also commonly have security cameras around the complex to deter crime from occurring. The presence of cameras increases transparency around the area, and parents of UF students will feel much better knowing their child is being protected at all hours.
Safe Rides Home
The University of Florida offers several free services to help Gators get home safely after-hours. SNAP, or the Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol is a free transportation service sponsored by student government. These passenger vans operate from 6:30pm-3am during the Fall/Spring semesters and from 8:30pm-3am during the summer semester. Students can submit ride requests via the TapRide app.
Another option for students to get home safely at night is using an app such as Uber or Lyft to get home. UF offers students discounted Lyft rides from 9pm-3am within a given service area! To ensure safety when using these apps, always be sure to verify your driver’s name, license plate number, and car make and model. Other ways to remain safe include verifying your driver knows your name and sitting in the back seat to ensure you can quickly exit in an emergency.
Other Safety Tips for Students
An easy way to maximize safety for students is to always let someone know where you are and who you are with when going out. Parents can feed two birds with one scone with this strategy in that they will feel better knowing where their students are, and students will feel better knowing someone is looking out for them. Location-sharing apps, such as Find my Friends and Life360, can also easily provide a similar comfort. It is also always a good idea for students to avoid going out alone at night. Finally, the UF Police Department also offers the S.A.F.E. (Self-Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange) program, which includes a 2-hour class geared towards adult and teenage women to learn physical self-defense. These classes can provide additional calmness incase students encounter the worst-case scenario.
Safety will always be a number one concern for students and parents alike, and prioritizing security features in your apartment search can help provide additional comfort to both you and your new Gator.
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