Types of Safety

Fire Safety

Each year, hundreds of fires plague college students nationwide. According to the U.S. Department of Education 87% of all campus fires occur in the off-campus area. There are four common factors:

  • Lack of automatic sprinkler systems

  • Missing or disabled smoke detectors

  • Careless disposal of smoking materials

  • Impaired judgment from alcohol consumption

It's your responsibility to be smart when it comes to fire safety. You can request a home safety walk-through with the Off-Campus Housing Excellence Program and learn more about enhancing your home fire safety. For more information, see the “Enhance Your Home Fire Safety” tab on the left.

Home Safety

Renters are at a higher risk of home burglary than homeowners. Remember to lock your windows and doors and pick up FREE safety alarms and timers from 3106 Ohio Union.  

Protect your personal property by registering it on the Student Life Property Registry.  The Registry of Personal Property is a database managed by Risk Assessment staff at OSU to help serve students, police, and shop owners. Students may request that specific items of value be registered with the database and in doing so may aid police and shop owners in the recovery of stolen materials.

If you have questions about your home safety, request a home visit through the Off-Campus Housing Excellence Program.

For more information, see the “Enhance your Home Security” tab on the left.

Fire Pit Safety

In the City of Columbus, fire pits are allowed with the following stipulations:

  • Must be a commercial fire pit with a screen top or a chimera, like those that can be purchased at a hardware store.
  • Use only clean, seasoned firewood or equivalent.
  • A water source and/or fire extinguisher should be located nearby and readily available for immediate use.
  • Must be supervised at all times. Be certain that the fire is completely extinguished before leaving it unattended.
  • Fire must be contained within the appliance, with no part of the flames extending outside the appliance or screen.
  • No less than ten (10) feet from any combustible structure (house, fence, shed, etc). Apartment Buildings may require twenty five (25) feet.
  • Fire Pits cannot be used during "Air Quality Alert" days.
  • Any other "Opening Burning" (trash, brush, etc) must be approved by the Division of Fire, Fire Prevention Bureau and must have a permit (contact the City of Columbus for this).
  • If there are ANY complaints from neighbors, immediate extinguishment must be done. Complaints might include, but are not limited to, smoke drifting into their house and/or fire getting out of control.

Outdoor Grill Safety

  • Ohio Fire Code requires grills to be placed at least 10 feet away from home/deck railings, and out from under any roof structures, eaves and branches.
  • Read all of NFPA's grilling safety tips & download the free safety tip sheet from the column on the right.
  • Remember to ensure your renters insurance is up to date and the policies cover use of fire pits and/or outdoor grills.

If you have any questions about the information above, please contact the Fire Prevention Bureau at 614-645-7641, ext. 75668.

**Check Your Lease - Before proceeding, confirm whether your property manager prohibits using fire pits and/or outdoor grills, or if they have other requirements above and beyond those of the City and the Fire Department.**

Package Theft

Not only are package thefts from porches increasing in the City of Columbus and outlying areas but they are also increasing nationally. Due to more online shopping, the problem is expected to increase during the holiday season. Based on information from NBC News, online sales are estimated to reach $334 billion with an estimated 23 million Americans having packages shipped.

Ways to Reduce the Possibility of Theft:

  • Report to the local Police or US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) if you notice mail carriers or delivery drivers being followed. This is also a safety issue for mail carriers and delivery drivers.
  • The contact information for the USPIS is 877-876-2455.
  • Report the theft immediately to the Police or Inspection Service, as well as to the shipper.
  • Require signatures on all package deliveries.
  • Insure packages.
  • Provide specific instructions where you would like the package left or have it delivered to your work address. The US Postal Service allows having certain deliveries left at the back, or side door, between screen and main door, or with a neighbor.
  • Some deliveries can be held for pickup at the Post Office.
  • If on vacation, request a hold on your mail.
  • Pick up mail promptly after delivery.
  • Neighbors can be of assistance. Let them know if you are expecting a package. They can retrieve it or hold it for you. Also, they can watch for suspicious activity in the area – strange vehicles, behavior, and persons.
  • USPS has a new service that will send a text message or email when the package is headed your way.
  • Mail Theft is a federal offense. The penalty for theft or possession of stolen mail is up to five years in prison, and fines up to $250,000.

Personal Safety

Be aware of your surroundings and use your common sense.  If you are out late, walk home with a friend, not by yourself, and utilize the Safe Ride Program, (614)292-3322,  to schedule a free ride home. The Safe Ride Programs operates seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., as well as Campus Area Bus Service.

Should anyone choose to utilize a non-university rideshare program, the following tips are recommended:

  • Follow the rideshare vehicle on GPS (if available)
  • When the car arrives, visually confirm vehicle information/description and driver’s name likely provided through the company’s mobile app first before approaching
  • Do not ride in the front seat or share your cell phone information
  • If you feel unsafe, or that something is not right, leave the area and contact authorities

Party Safety

Know your guests, make sure they are 21+ if they choose to drink, and make sure your crowd stays inside your house or on your yard. Don’t let the party spill over to the sidewalk or street or else it will get shut down!

Be respectful of your neighbors – Let them know before you’re having people over, and try to keep your noise at an appropriate level.

If you choose to consume alcoholic beverages, be smart! For helpful tips, visit Party Smart.

Bicycle Safety

By law, bicycles are considered vehicles and must obey all traffic laws. One-way streets, stop signs, riding on the right side of the road, and yielding to pedestrians are some of the requirements for bicycle operators.

Here are some things to remember:

  • Two locks are better than one. U- or O-shaped locks work best in deterring bicycle theft. When parking, lock both rims and the frame to a bike rack for more security. Use only bike racks, not small trees or outside furniture, and keep walkways and stairways unobstructed.
  • Prevent crime: When your bike is parked for an extended period, occasionally move it to show you are keeping a watchful eye.
  • Bug Your Bike! Bicycle theft can be a problem for students. Use the latest technology to "Bug Your Bike" with a free RFID (radio frequency identification device) as part of the Student Life Risk Assessment efforts to prevent theft. Bugs are available at University Security and Fire Prevention Services, 1010 Blankenship Hall.
  • Register your bike: This is a free service that takes only a few minutes out of your day. A registered bike that is lost or stolen is more likely to be found and returned. For more information or to register your bike, visit the Public Safety office in Blankenship Hall.

Here are some resources for you in regards to bicycle and safety:

Share the Road

Share the Road initiative works to promote safety among staff, students, and visitors. Everyone uses different modes of transportation and it is important to respect everyone on and off campus.

Students, faculty, staff and visitors should always keep safety in mind when moving on and around campus. We all use multiple modes of transportation, whether walking, biking or driving and share the responsibility in assuring it's done safely.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Do your part to stop distracting behaviors.

  • Remember to look, do not jaywalk.

  • Obey all traffic laws. Walk your bike to the rack.

  • Obey all speed limits, expect bikes on the road.

Pedestrian Safety

Be sure to obey all crosswalk signals, stay on the sidewalk, and beware of your surroundings. We all must honor the new North and South Oval Walk Zone. Cyclists and skateboarders are required to dismount and walk through this zone. For more tips on pedestrian safety visit Share the Road.


**Remember to stay safe, healthy and secure during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Wexner Medical Center has important information and tips at the following link: https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/features/coronavirus**