Safety Tips
Safety Tips

Safety Tips

GWPD plays an active role in crime prevention. Educating the community about ways to keep yourself and your belongings safe is vital to achieving this goal.

The GW Guardian App

GW Guardian App

The GW Guardian App: Additional Layer of Security

The GW Guardian App offers an additional layer of security to the University’s emergency mass notification services. Free to the GW Community, this personal safety app enables users on and off campus to:

  • Receive targeted advisories and alerts from the GW Division of Safety & Operations,
  • Connect directly with GW Police and EMeRG (GW's volunteer EMS agency),
  • Access a directory of key phone numbers that will put you in direct contact with Safety & Operations and Student Affairs resources - such as the Student Health CenterOffice of Advocacy & Support, and Safe Ride,
  • Set a Safety Timer and assign a virtual Guardian to monitor your safety late at night or while traveling, 
  • Elect to include optional, personal information to share with emergency responders - such as emergency contacts or medical alerts,
  • Invite others from the GW Community to form a more robust personal safety network.

Personal Safety 

Blue Light emergency phone

Blue Light Emergency Phone

  • Always be aware of your surroundings and environment.
  • Be familiar with locations of the Blue Light Emergency Phones on campus.
  • Know the locations and phone numbers of emergency responders.
  • Learn about the neighborhoods where you live, work, volunteer, and have fun.
  • Don’t text or look down at the ground, watch the cars and people around you.
  • Only wear headphones in one ear, so you can remain aware of your surroundings and environment.
  • Keep your phone charged, secure and out of sight. Always carry identification.

Safety in the City

Pedestrian Safety

Pedestrian Safety

  • Never leave your belongings unattended, even if you will only be gone for a short time.
  • Avoid isolated areas—underground garages, alleys, parking lots, and offices after business hours. Walk with a group and in well-lit areas.
  • Have a plan when you go out: know how you will get home; let someone know where you are going, with whom, and what time you plan to return.
  • If you feel like you are being followed, move as fast as possible towards the nearest lighted and populated building. You can also cross the street in the middle of the road or flag down a passing car for assistance.
  • Maintain a safe distance if approached by a stranger, even if they just ask for directions.
  • Walk with a confident attitude, even when you are lost.
  • Never leave important documents in your car such as the title or registration, put any valuables or packages in the trunk.
  • Avoid using electronic devices on public transportation especially when seated near the doors.
  • Do not sleep on the bus or train.
  • Always lock your bike in a way that secures the frame and both tires.

Safety at your Workplace and Classroom Lockdown Buttons

See something, say something

See Something, Say Something

  • Familiarize yourself with the location and operation of Classroom Lockdown Buttons (PDF).
  • Lock your office whenever you leave.
  • Do not leave cash or credit cards unattended in the office, especially overnight or over a weekend, unless it is secured in a safe or vault.
  • If you are entrusted with a key to a specific area, never loan it to anyone and keep it secured.
  • Report suspicious people in your office building to GWPD at (202) 994-6111.
  • Report the loss or theft of keys, equipment, or valuables immediately to GWPD.

Safety in your Residence

Residence Hall safety

Residence Safety

  • ALWAYS lock the door when you leave the room.
  • Keep your items secured and out of sight at all times.
  • Do not allow strangers to piggyback, or follow you, into your building. If someone suspicious does follow you into the building, try to make a mental note of what the person looks like and what time it is. Go immediately to a place where you feel safe, lock the door, and call GW Emergency Services at (202)-994-6111. If you are off-campus, call 911 or alert your building's security personnel.
  • Remember that GW visitors and guests should be escorted at all times. Residents must walk down to let their guests into the building.
  • If you lose your GWorld card, deactivate it. If you lose your keys, borrow loaner keys from the Key Depot and replace yours. It's better to pay the key replacement fee than to leave your room unsecured.
  • Never open your door to strangers. Check the ID of service people before letting them in. Don’t be embarrassed to call for verification.
  • If you come home and see a door or window open or broken or notice other indicators of a break in, do not enter your house. If you have already done so, leave immediately and call the police.

Internet Safety

World Wide Web Safety

As the internet becomes an integral part of life for many of us, it can also be a treasure trove of information for criminals to take advantage of you. Below are some tips and resources to best protect yourself on the world wide web:


Do Your Research


  • Search your name (and combinations of your other personal information) into various search engines to see what you can find out about yourself.
    • Tip: Examples of personal information: first name, last name, date of birth, hometown, current address, phone number.

  • Take note of websites that have information you want removed. Contact each website's administrator and request that they remove your information from their website.

Know Your Presence on Social Media


  • Make a list of websites where you have (or have ever had) accounts online (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.). Dormant social media accounts can be easy targets for criminals seeking information about you.
  • Check the security and privacy settings to make sure that you are comfortable with what is publicly available.
    • Tip: Many social media sites allow you to view your profile as if you were a member of the public. Use that functionality to make sure you have your privacy settings adjusted correctly.

    • Tip: Social media sites change their security and privacy settings often. Set a reminder to check back on these sites regularly to update your setting preferences.

Set Alarms


  • Just like you would set a home security system, set alarms to make sure you’re notified of any online privacy intrusion.
    • Tip: If you sign up for Google Alerts, you can be notified anytime Google finds a new result for your name (or other terms you request to be notified about).

    • Tip: Regularly monitor your credit report for any changes that you may not be aware of (for example: new accounts or loans).

    • Tip: Consider services that offer credit and identity fraud protection for added peace of mind.


Strengthen Passwords


  • Enable multi-factor authentication when websites support it. This requires another ‘factor’ (such as a pin code sent to your cell phone) in addition to your username and password in order to successfully log into an account.
  • Check the strength of your passwords, and never use the same password for multiple websites.
    • Tip: When choosing passwords, avoid using words in the dictionary or any personal information. Instead, use a combination of numbers, punctuation, and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters. 

Remain Vigilant


  • Keep an eye on your digital footprint and always ask yourself – “Do I really want this to be online?”
  • If you want to "remove" yourself from the internet, there are guides and paid services that can help you with that.
  • If you are concerned, need more information, or find that someone is using information against you, we are here to help. Call GW Office of Advocacy and Support at (202) 994-0443.


Identity Theft

Identity Theft

Personal Information Safety

Identity theft occurs when an unauthorized individual acquires some of your personal information -- your bank and/or credit card numbers, your social security number (SSN), or even something as simple as your name, address, and telephone number - and uses it to commit fraud or theft.

Personal information can be obtained by:

  • Stealing wallets, purses, or mail containing your identification, and credit or bank cards.
  • Using personal information you share and they obtained on the Internet.
  • Looking through your trash, or the trash of businesses, for personal data.
  • Using false pretenses to obtain information from you. (For example, a thief may get your personal information from a survey or social networking site.)
  • Posing as a landlord, employer or someone else who may have a legitimate need for, and a legal right to, your credit report.
  • Obtaining your business or personnel records at work or in your home.
  • Using a method called “skimming,” where a specific device stores your credit/debit card information when it is processed.

Personal information can be used to:

  • Open a new credit card account, or establish phone, internet, or other utility services in your name. When they don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
  • Open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
  • File for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they've incurred under your name, or to avoid eviction.
  • Counterfeit checks or debit cards, and drain your bank account.
  • Give your name to the police during an arrest. If they're released from police custody but don't show up for their court date, an arrest warrant is issued in your name.
  • Obtain a fake ID or driver’s license, take out a loan, or obtain a job using your name and information.

Identity theft can result in:

  • Being refused loans (car, housing, education) and employment opportunities.
  • Being denied credit cards.
  • Being arrested for crimes they did not commit.
  • Taking considerable time and effect to correct fraudulent accounts and credit reports.
  • Having emotional and physical reactions to the stress of having their identity stolen and used fraudulently.
  • Feeling angry, helpless, and violated.
  • Finding it hard to reestablish trust, or become hyper-vigilant about guarding their personal information. These feelings are normal. Talking to a trusted friend or counselor can help a victim cope with these feelings.

Rideshare Tips

Police directing GW shuttle

Rideshare Safety

  • Ask the driver his or her name before entering the vehicle.
  • Compare the photo provided by the rideshare company with the driver.
  • Ensure the car you are entering matches the car and the license plate number indicated by the rideshare app.
  • Check the rating of the driver to determine if you want to use that vehicle.
  • Know where to file complaints against the driver if needed.