Protect yourself as you live off-campus
Washington, D.C. is a vibrant and urban city. As in any metropolitan region, it’s important to be aware of general safety concerns and to use common sense.
The Friends of Rigby Foundation
The Friends of Rigby Foundation educates students about fire safety and honors the memory of Daniel Rigby. Daniel passed away in a house fire on Prospect St. The Rigby Foundation wants to ensure that this kind of tragedy never happens at Georgetown or anywhere else again. Be sure that any DC property your rent from has a Basic Business License, meaning that the property meets the minimum safety standards required by law, including smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. If you have any concerns about your property, reach out to ONL or the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The Friends of Rigby Foundation also has free fire safety equipment including smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and fire escape ladders available for you at ONL.
Home Safety Tips
- Lock your doors and windows. All doors and windows in your house should be locked at all times. If you have a car, make sure you keep those doors locked as well. Landlords are required to provide effective locks for residences. Contact your landlord if you have concerns about any security devices in your house.
- Leave an outside light on at night.
- If someone you don’t know enters your residence, call the police immediately via 911.
- Keep your valuables out of sight at all times.
- Secure your laptop. Consider purchasing a lock for your laptop and keeping it locked, even when in your home.
- Register your bicycle. Contact GUPD at (202) 687-4343 to register your bicycle on campus. Buy a quality lock for your bike to protect against theft.
- If you are having a gathering at your property and you are no longer able to properly manage the noise levels, call the University Helpline at (202) 687-8413 for assistance in ending your gathering.
Before renting an apartment or house, do the following:
- Request that your landlord present a Basic Business License for the property before you sign the lease or verify the BBL yourself in DC PIVS.
- Contact D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) at (202) 442-4400 to schedule a complete inspection of the house.
- DCRA can indentify a wide array of issues in a home. Schedule an inspection if you feel there are threats to your safety in your home. You do not need your landlord’s permission.
- View the District’s Fire Safety Checklist
- Go to the National Fire Protection Association’s site to look through tips on evacuation plans, causes of fire, and safe equipment, and holiday tips on prevention of fire.
- If you have a landlord-tenant concern in the District of Columbia, you can contact the Office of the Tenant Advocate at (202) 719-6560 for assistance.
The DCRA regulates where smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be placed,
- Check to make sure that you have working smoke detectors by testing them once a month. Change the batteries in your smoke detector every six months and make sure they’re never disconnected.
- Make sure at least one smoke detector is on every floor of the house. They should be located near each bedroom, either on the ceiling or just a few inches below the ceiling on the wall.
- The detector should have a distinct warning signal that you’ll be sure to hear whether you’re awake or asleep.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
If your Carbon Monoxide Detector goes off, any time of day or night…
- Immediately move to fresh air (outside)
- Call 911
- Call your local gas company. If you are a Washington Gas customer call (703) 750-1000.
Also, make sure to research where to put your detector.
Other Basic Fire Safety Measures
- Don’t use extension cords. When you have to use them, make sure they and all other wires never have to go under rugs or over doorways.
- Do not overload electrical outlets.
- Keep combustible materials like curtains, sheets and rugs away from appliances that may heat up, like computers, TVs, stoves, microwaves, or heaters.
- Check out this brochure from the Friends of Rigby Foundation for more information regarding fire safety.
- Call 911 if you are experiencing a fire and need the Fire Department.
Personal Safety Tips
As in any city, people in the District of Columbia and the surrounding areas need to be vigilant about their personal safety and take precautions.
- Tell your landlord to let you know the names of any service people hired to work at your house as well as the day and time they are scheduled to come.
- Never allow strangers to come into your home. Check the identification of sales or service people before letting them in and don’t hesitate to make a call for verification.
- Get to know your neighbors so you have somewhere to go if you’re uncomfortable or frightened.
- If you come home and see a door or window open or broken, do not go in. Call 911 and wait for the police in a safe place outside your home, such as a neighbor’s house.
- Know the numbers you will need in the event of an emergency. You should save these numbers into your cell phone and keep a list on your computer so that you’ll always have them available in case of an emergency.
- Georgetown University Police Department: (202) 687-4343
- Metropolitan Police: 911
- Avoid walking, jogging, or running alone at night. This applies to both males and females.
- If you’re walking somewhere, avoid taking shortcuts through dark alleys–stick to well-lit streets.
- Don’t carry valuable items when walking alone (large amounts of money, laptops, credit cards).
- Try to stay where there are lots of people.
- Shout “Leave me alone!” if you are being harassed. Try to attract attention and head toward any facility where people are present.
- Always carry personal identification, e.g., GOCard, with you.
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Talking on a cell phone or listening to music can make you less alert and an easy target for criminals.
- Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave the area.
- If you use alcohol, do so responsibly. Intoxicated pedestrians make easy targets for criminals.
- Never walk anywhere with an open container of alcohol. This is a violation of D.C. law and of the Code of Student Conduct.
- Late Night Shuttles are a free, late-night transportation option. Three continuous loops around our community run Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, 10pm-3am.
- SafeRides provide free rides from on campus to off campus, off campus to on campus, or from one off-campus location to another to keep you safe at night.
- Get a free ride from 8pm to 2am Sunday through Wednesday nights and 8pm-3am Thursday through Saturday nights.
- Call (202) 687-4343 to order a ride.
- Prioritze your safety if you are traveling to and from the neighborhoods surrounding campus via a rideshare such as Uber or Lyft. When requesting rideshare vehicles, always remember to:
- Check that the license plate, driver photo, and driver name all match what is listed in the app;
- Don’t tell your name prior to entering the vehicle. Instead, ask the driver who they are picking up;
- When riding alone, sit in the back seat, so there are exits available on both sides of the vehicle in case of an emergency;
- Share your trip details with a friend; and
- Trust your instintcs. If you feel you are in an emergency situation, immediately call 911.
- For information on Georgetown University’s emergency management program, as well as links to useful tips on how to prepare yourself and your home, visit preparedness.georgetown.edu.
- Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) serves the mental health care needs of students and the campus community from theirlocation on the main campus.
- During regular business hours, call (202) 687-6985. For emergencies after hours, call 202-444-PAGE (7243) and ask to speak to on-call clinician.
Additional Safety Resources
- University Safety and Environmental Management Department
- Georgetown University Police Department (GUPD)
- Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) 2nd District: (202) 715-7300
- Call 911 if you are experiencing an emergency and need assistance from police, medics, or the fire department.
- Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS)
- If you are a Georgetown student and are concerned about the health or well being of another student, neither you nor the ill student will be subject to disciplinary action if you contact GERMS. Simply put, the health and safety of each student is most important.
For information on the University’s response to emergency situations, as well as links to useful tips on how to be prepare yourself and your home, please visit the University’s Emergency Preparedness site.
HOYAlert sends messages with guidance in the event of an incident affecting the safety or security of Georgetown University’s Main Campus, Medical Center, School of Continuing Studies and Law Center. HOYAlert allows users to receive these alerts via Georgetown University or personal email addresses, SMS text messaging to cell phones and PDAs, as well as voice messaging to a cell or landline phones. Messages can be sent at any time as incidents occur, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.