Safety Concerns

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.

Home Safety

  • 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 DPS at (202) 687.4343 to register your bicycle on campus. Buy a quality lock for your bike to protect against theft.

Personal Safety

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 and 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. 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.
    • The Department of Public Safety: (202) 687.4343
    • Metropolitan Police: 911
  • Avoid walking alone at night. This applies to both males and females.
  • Don't jog or run at night.
  • 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.
  • SafeRides vans provide rides from on campus to off campus, off campus to on campus, or from one off-campus location to another, so that you do not have to walk at night if you feel unsafe.
    • SafeRides operates from 8pm to 2am Sunday through Wednesday nights and 8pm-3am Thursday through Saturday nights.
    • Call 202-687-4343 if you need a ride.
  • 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
Additional Safety Resources

University Safety and Environmental Management Department
University Department of Public Safety (DPS)
Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) 2nd District: (202) 715.7300
Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service (GERMS)

Fire and Carbon Monoxide Safety

Before renting an apartment or house, do the following:
Additionally, use the following checklist for your apartment or house to be sure you’re safe in case of a fire:
Smoke Detectors
  • 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...
    1. Immediately move to fresh air (outside)
    2. Call 911
    3. 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 Measures
  • Don’t use extension cords whenever possible. 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.

Emergency Preparedness

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.