29 January 2019
Hazards that could endanger people are omnipresent, and we take steps every day to reduce their chance of impeding our lives. We (hopefully) drive slower in the snow, we (hopefully) do not stand under trees during lightning storms and we (hopefully) do not run with scissors.
Despite our actions to reduce threats, we could take better steps to reduce severe disasters that frequently grace the news: landslides, fires, floods, blizzards, shootings and assaults. UCCS students and Public Safety should be more proactive and educated in order to be prepared to face any dangerous situation that could arise.
The Washington Post reports that “Natural disasters cost $155 billion this year,” a cost that is only likely to grow in the future due to increased severity of natural disasters caused by global climate change.
Being prepared for these events by knowing what to do before they happen, actions to carry out as they are occurring and the steps to take after can help decrease the devastation the disasters cause.
According to galaxydigital.com having disaster preparedness guidelines, “preventative measures taken to reduce the severity of a disaster’s effects,” can help lessen the impact of disasters, save lives and reduce the waste of resources, time and efforts.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, said that “Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety and losses that accompany disasters.”
Preparation is worthless without information on how to protect yourself from the disasters. The best way to increase that information would be through even greater public education campaigns on the part of the university and Public Safety.
Including disaster preparation in Gateway Program Seminars (GPS) would be the first line of defense against these hazards.
Incoming freshman are the most vulnerable population on campus, due to them often having less life experience. Also, students from out of state who did not previously live in a cold climate may not be acclimated to live in an area with severe weather conditions (i.e. hail, blizzards, icy roads).
New students are more suitable susceptible to these dangers so GPS would be an ideal forum to educate them, and essential in developing a culture of preparedness as the campus moves forward with plans for safety preparation.
According to an article by Collegiate Times, “Since April 17, 2007, 320 people have been shot on college and university campuses in the U.S.”
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that “One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.”
The UCCS Police Department’s #SafetyTipTuesday campaign is an amazing endeavor to help make campus a safer place, and it can be even safer if that campaign was expanded and more heavily featured on campus. Sergeant Lisa Dipzinksi has previously covered topics like residence hall safety, how to recognize the signs for domestic violence and how to safeguard yourself against theft — all invaluable topics that deserves more attention than it gets from the greater campus community.
In #SafetyTipTuesday, Dipzinksi also discussed her self-defense class Never-A-Victim, which helps students know to handle dangerous situations where their life or limb could be at danger. Greater campus support for this program would only solidify our ability to guarantee the personal autonomy of our students.
The Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE) training should become a graduation requirement regardless of program. A maximum of two hours of each student’s time is more than enough of a sacrifice to bring greater safety to our community.
If you are not a student in a GPS class, or simply do not have the time to attend an instructional briefing, online resources are bountiful to say the least.
A government website, ready.gov, has a host of guidelines on how to prevent harm to yourself and your family for an array of disasters including floods, home and forest fires and tornadoes.
Everydayhealth.com is also a great resource, composed of a comprehensive list of different natural disasters and the measures that can be put into place to decrease damage, guidelines on how to assemble an emergency kit and preventative measures you can take to keep yourself and loved ones out of harm’s way.
Although you can not truly prepare for an active shooting situation or an assault, The Hope Line reports that in order to prevent an assault you should trust your instincts and stay alert.
A howstuffworks.com article about soft targets shares the same advice and adds advice from people who work under fire on how to protect yourself from these dangerous situations.
Regardless of how available these resources are, prevention needs more than textual resources. Our community must come together, practice and prepare in order to make all of us safer. In the words of Smokey the Bear, “Only you can prevent forest fires!”