In the Know: Safety and Emergency Preparedness


In the Know: Advice for international students is a section of the UVic Global Community Newsletter that includes valuable information and important dates for undergraduate and graduate international students in the following categories: degree-seekingincoming exchange, and incoming study abroad/visiting.

Victoria and the UVic campus are generally very safe, but it is important to be aware of available resources and the actions you can take to stay healthy and avoid hazardous situations while studying at UVic.

Content of article:

Resources for International Students Inside BC

Emergency Assistance

In Canada, you can report an emergency anytime and anywhere by phoning 9-1-1.

An operator will ask you to choose police, fire, or ambulance, and will ask what city you are in. Interpreting services are available on request. The operator will transfer you. Do not hang up!

More information about emergency assistance on campus is available on the UVic website.

Non-Emergency Assistance

HealthLink BC provides non-emergency health information and advice. Access this service anytime by phoning 8-1-1 or by visiting the HealthLink BC website.

Interpreting services are available on request.

The following on-campus units provide resources to support your health and safety:

COVID-19 Information

UVic is following the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the provincial health officer in this ever-evolving situation. The university’s safety programming is informed by guidance and direction from the provincial health officer, COVID-19 Go-Forward Guidelines for B.C.’s Post-Secondary Sector and WorkSafeBC.

You can also refer to:


Emergency Planning

Do you know what to do before, during, and after an emergency? Planning ahead will help you stay safe when the time comes.

Canada's Emergency Preparedness Week takes place every year in May. Make sure to learn about possible hazards and get prepared.

Register for UVic Emergency Alerts and update your contact information on your UVic Online Tools.

Outdoor Activities

Vancouver Island is a wonderful place to explore, but first take a moment to consider your safety:


  • Plan carefully before going on a hike. Make sure you are in the right physical health to enjoy your hiking activity. Wear proper clothing and footwear. Carry water and food with you. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Carry a mobile phone, but be aware that you may not get service in some areas.


  • Consult the BC Cycling Coalition's Bike Sense Manual for safe riding practices.
  • Cyclists are required by law to wear a helmet at all times and to use both a front headlight and a rear light at night.

Water Activities

  • Victoria is surrounded by ocean and has several lakes, so we encourage all students to learn about water safety.
  • Swimming in the ocean and in lakes is different from swimming in pools and is often more challenging. Be aware of your abilities and limitations and wear a lifejacket if necessary.
  • Boaters are required by law to carry marine safety equipment. Check the forecast before setting out, and pay attention to the weather. Be alert for wave, wind, and cloud changes that signal bad weather approaching.
  • For more information, review the water safety video on our Video resources for new students page.

Vikes Recreation

  • Connect with Vikes Recreation if you have questions about any of their Active Living Programs or services.

Theft Prevention

Record serial or identity numbers and engrave or mark valuable items. Keep your passport and important documents at home and in a safe place. Do not leave your belongings unattended in public places. It only takes a few seconds for them to disappear. Bicycle theft is common, so invest in a solid lock.

Home Safety

Do not put your name or address on your keys. Replace locks if your keys are lost or stolen. Never let a stranger into your home. Keep your doors and windows locked.

A smoke alarm is a very important piece of safety equipment for your home; it is designed to alert you to fires so you can escape. Make sure your home has a smoke alarm. Test the smoke alarm every month, replace the batteries once a year, keep it clear of dust, and do not disable it, cover it, or paint over it.

Vehicle Safety

If you intend to drive a vehicle in BC, consult the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) website. Do not use a handheld device such as a mobile phone while driving. Do not accept rides from strangers or offer a ride to someone you just met. Do not drive after consuming drugs and alcohol; it is a very serious offence in Canada and it is important to understand the law. Do not leave valuables visible inside a vehicle but rather store them in the trunk. When a vehicle is not in use, keep the doors, windows, sunroof, and trunk closed and locked. Always wear a seatbelt!

Alcohol and Drugs

In Canada, it is against the law to use, buy, or sell illegal drugs. The consumption of alcohol is legal, but it is against the law to carry open alcohol in public places or in a vehicle. In BC, the legal drinking age is 19. You will need government issued photo identification to enter bars and pubs. Never leave your drink unattended and do not accept drinks from strangers.

In Canada, the consumption of recreational cannabis is legal. Each province and territory has its own rules for cannabis including the legal minimum age (19 years in BC), where adults can buy, where adults can use, and how much adults can possess. Keep in mind that the legalization of cannabis does not change Canada’s border regulations or laws in other countries. Here is more information on cannabis.

Please remember that each of us is responsible for our behaviour and for any decisions we make, even if we are intoxicated.

Personal Safety

Do not give personal information like your name, address, or telephone number to a stranger. When meeting someone new, ask a friend to join you or plan to meet in a public place. Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, leave immediately. When walking after dark, plan your route. Keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings. If possible, walk with someone you know and trust. Learn the location of phones on campus that direct dial to Campus Security Services and make use of their Safe Haven, Safe Walk, and Campus Alone programs.


Cultural differences and language barriers can sometimes lead to communication challenges and misinterpreted behaviours. When you start dating someone, be clear about your limits and respect their limits. NO means NO! If you feel scared or unsafe, if you want someone to stop touching you, or if you want a relationship to end, say NO. Be direct and firm. No one has the right to contact you or touch you after you tell them to stop. We encourage all students to learn about sexualized violence prevention and awareness.

Fraud Prevention

Attempted fraud is often referred to as a scam. Scams can happen over the telephone, through mail, text, email, online, or in person. Most scams ask for money or sensitive personal information, which can be used to steal your identity. Once someone has stolen your identity, they can access your accounts and take your money. Scams often appear to come from well-known and trusted businesses, financial institutions, or government agencies. Sometimes, they even appear to come from UVic. Learn more about fraud and how you can protect yourself.

Further Supports & Contacts

More International Student Advising information is available on our website. We are here to support you throughout your time at UVic, so please don’t hesitate to stop by our office, call, or email us!