Every year, 3,000 of the 5,700 students who live in on-campus housing at VCU have to leave their residence halls for more than three weeks, along with many more off-campus residents who spend winter break at home, according to Allison Patel, assistant director of facilities/conferences.
Here are some tips to keep your home or residence hall safe, secure, and ready for you to make a smooth transition to the spring semester when you return from winter break.
1. Take home valuables
“I was robbed last winter break. It was in Randolph, our door got kicked into our house. My roommates’ laptops got stolen, my money was stolen. I’ve moved to a safer area since then.” -Justin Esposito, senior jazz studies major.
2. Don’t let mail pile up
“If you get mail at your apartment, contact the post office and have them hold your mail so there’s not a stack of mail outside that clearly says nobody’s coming and going.” —Michael Kelly, VCU Police spokesperson.
3. Think twice before throwing out boxes
“If you throw a box out there on Monday for a TV, a playstation, and an iPad and the mail doesn’t come for a couple days, you’ve basically put a sign outside your home that says ‘there are valuable electronics in here.’” —Michael Kelly, VCU Police spokesperson.
4. Turn off water
“You definitely want to make sure your water is off. That’s just at the faucet, I’m not saying you need to turn it off under the house or anything, unless you’re going to be gone for a long time, like months.” —Allison Patel, assistant director of facilities/conferences.
5. Turn down the thermostat
“Last year I came back and was like, ‘Oh, my place is pretty toasty.’… and then I realized ‘oh, it’s been toasty for a month.’ Then I got the bill.” — Frankie Martinez, junior mass communications major.
Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature will ensure you don’t return from break to an expensive heating bill. VCU Residential Life and Housing recommends turning thermostats down to 60 degrees.
“We recommend you unplug everything except for fish tanks. For those major appliances, like if you have a big refrigerator, we recommend you don’t unplug that. But if you have a mini-fridge we recommend that you unplug it.” —Allison Patel, assistant director of facilities/conferences.
7. Do dishes and clean out fridge
Don’t come back to school to find spoiled food that attracts rodents and pests.
“I went to undergrad at U.Va. My freshman year my roommate and I had a grilled cheese sandwich party during finals. When I came back from break to my dorm we realized we forgot to do the dishes and they had been shoved underneath the bed and there were grilled cheese sandwiches under there and a bigger ant problem than we could handle … Now I make sure I leave my apartment in mint condition over break.” — Lisa Borcheller, graduate student at School of Allied Health.