As many of our young adult children and grandchildren are heading off to college, or living on their own for the first time, here are some tips to help them stay safe and prepared.
Make sure they are briefed on important safety tips such as familiarize yourself with the campus, save or memorize important phone numbers like campus police, never walk alone at night, protect your bags when you’re out, and always be alert.
Make sure they have personal safety items they are comfortable with and know how to use. Examples could be mace pepper spray, drink detection strips, personal alarm to carry, a safe disguised as something else like a book to protect valuables, a motion sensor alarm for dorm rooms, etc.
Technology security is going to be more important than ever as identity thieves often target students and younger people. It is important to use strong, different passwords. Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. Install and update reputable, anti-virus software. Never open email attachments or links from unknown sources. Check security and privacy settings on apps. Make sure to back up all work and data in a cloud based account or external hard drive often as we can’t anticipate when laptops, computers or phones will break down. If using shared Wi-Fi, avoid logging into sensitive information. If using shared computers, always clear browsing history and log out.
When a child becomes an adult at age 18, parents are restricted in making medical and financial decisions for them. It is important to check with your legal representation to ensure you have the appropriate legal documents in place. A HIPAA authorization form will allow a college student to designate his/her parents to be updated about their medical information during any type of treatment. A medical power of attorney will allow parents to make informed medical decisions on the young adult’s behalf if unfortunately ever needed. A general durable power of attorney allows the young adult to give a parent or another person the authority to make financial and legal decisions such as paying bills, managing bank accounts, breaking a lease, etc. if they are unable to do so on their own.
College is a time of great change for young adults. As with any type of planning, the more prepared you are, the easier this transition will be for the entire family.
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