As Arizona State University’s freshmen move out of their childhood homes and into the residence halls this weekend, there are a few things they should keep in mind to stay healthy and safe this school year.

For many, this is the first time they will be living away from home for an extended period of time. With college comes a large amount of freedom most 18-year-olds are not familiar with.

Two health and safety experts on campus, ASU police Cmdr. Jim Hardina and director of ASU Health Services Allan Markus, have these tips for this year’s incoming freshman class:

1. Use common sense.

Both stressed this particular piece of advice for students. That includes following old habits created when students were still living at home.

“Students think, ‘I’m on campus, it’s safe,’ and it is, but it’s not crime-free,” Hardina said.

Students walking on campus at night should try to walk in groups and tell friends when they will be back, Hardina said.

Pickpockets target people walking with headphones on, both during the day and at night, Hardina said. Be aware of your surroundings.

2. Ward off the mythic “Freshman 15.”

Markus said that if students get enough rest, eat well and exercise, they should be able to avoid unwanted weight gain.

“Get a good night’s sleep and maintain a regular bedtime,” Markus suggests.

Even though students may be staying up late to study, they should still get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, Markus said.

Exercise is also important and ASU offers many options to stay in shape, Markus said. With intramural sports, weight training, dance and aerobics classes and more, students have access to different types of physical activity.

But healthy living isn’t just getting sleep and exercise. Markus said concentrating on a healthy diet is also important.

“With so many options available to students, they really can make good food choices at ASU,” Markus said.

3. Lock your door.

Expensive valuables like TVs, laptop computers, video game systems, stacks of DVDs, MP3 players, stereo systems and smart phones are in nearly every dorm room.

“The whole time I’ve been at ASU, I can’t think of one instance where someone forced open a door,” Hardina said. “In almost all thefts, either the door was unlocked or things were stolen by a roommate or suitemate.”

4. Get vaccinated.

It is recommended that students get a meningitis vaccination before college, since those who are college-age are at highest risk, Markus said. During freshman check-in, there will be a meningitis vaccination clinic, which makes it easy for students.

Illnesses can spread from one end of the hall to the other. It’s important for students to get the flu vaccination when it becomes available later in the fall, Markus said. ASU Health Services will host a flu clinic to vaccinate as many people as possible.

5. Don’t drink.

While college can be a time to experiment, students who drink take more than just the risk of drinking underage. The ASU Police Department actively enforces minor consumption regulations because it helps keep students safer, Hardina said.

“All violent or sexual crime on campus involves alcohol,” Hardina said. “Either the victim or the suspect had alcohol at the time of the crime.”

6. Sign up for emergency texts.

Most students don’t check their email all the time, but they probably keep their cell phone on them most of the day. Students may sign up for ASU Alert, the university’s emergency messaging system, at

“ASU Alert is used for emergencies affecting life and safety,” said Julie Newberg, an ASU spokeswoman. “In addition, the university has added ASU Advisory, a new messaging option for incidents such as an unexpected closure of a building or small fire that occurs during off hours.”

7. Go to the doctor.

If you do get sick, ASU health centers offer scheduled doctor’s appointments and walk-in urgent care. The health centers are on all four campuses.  The pharmacy is located inside the building so students don’t need to leave campus to fill prescriptions. Prescriptions from other doctors can also be transferred or filled on campus for students’ convenience.

8. Get connected.

Students who get involved in activities have less stress and homesickness, Markus said. It’s also an easy way to make new friends with similar interests. ASU offers more than a few options to get involved student organizations can be found for every religion, hobby, language and sport.

9. Ask for help when you need it.

Everywhere on campus there is always a blue box nearby. These are direct lines to the police department and should be used only in emergencies.

“It’s just like calling 911,” Hardina said. “An officer will always be sent if you press the button.” If calling 911 is impossible or you are unable to talk, this is an easy way to report an emergency.

Safety Escort Services provides students with a safe ride or walk across campus, on every campus. This is especially convenient to use late at night when the campus is empty. Save the number in your phone for future reference: The number for the Tempe campus is (480)965-1515.

10. Remember to clean.

Dorm rooms can turn into a Petri dish very quickly. This is where students live: they study, sleep, eat and hang out all in one place. Mom’s not there to do it and your roommate shouldn’t be the one to do it all the time. Clean your room.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5645 or

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