Emergency Preparedness Tips for College Students

When you’re away at college, immersed in studying, sports, and social activities, disaster planning might seem like the furthest thing from your mind. However, in reality, a crisis can develop anywhere, at anytime. A little advance planning can save you valuable moments later and quite possibly, your life.

Believe it or not-emergency preparedness is relatively simple and easy to fit into your campus lifestyle. Most readiness takes a few minutes of thought and just a little effort.

Here are 6 quick college “prep” tips for emergency readiness and safety:

Find your place of shelter for severe weather and emergency exit routes by asking a person of authority or checking the emergency plans posted on walls. Know at least two exits from your dorm and classrooms. Never take elevators in the event of a fire, even if they appear to be working properly, as you may become trapped between floors or doors may open on a level filled with flames. Don’t stay in your dorm or go back for personal items during an emergency evacuation.

Practice by taking the evacuation route a few times in advance. Many dorms have stairways that lead to different levels, rather than a direct path to an exit. These may require several changes on other floors to reach the outdoors. Learn your way to exits before an emergency, when smoke filled passageways can make navigation far more difficult. Determine if your key or campus identification card are required (or will work) to open stairway doors on other floors. If you have to leave in an emergency, you may need these to exit.

Keep security’s number posted by your room phone and programmed into your cell phone. Store your family’s emergency contact info in your cell under “I.C.E.” (ICase of Emergency). In the event you are unconscious or unable to call, responders will look at your cell for this information.

Identify how you receive campus updates. Does your college use email, radio, television or text alerts to send bulletins regarding violence or crisis situations? 

Stash an extra blanket, flashlight and batteries, first aid kit, and a few days of non-perishable food and bottled water handy in your dorm just in case you get stuck without power. Your first aid kit doesn’t need to be huge, but should have the essentials- bandages, anti-septic cream, burn spray, non-aspirin pain reliever and gloves.

Make plans with family for contacting them in the event of a widespread disaster, such as a tornado, hurricane or flood. If a large area is affected, phone service (even your cell) may not have any reception. It’s possible, both you and your family may not have working phones. Services like the American Red Cross can make calls for you to contact numbers. This is why it’s a good idea to pick an out-of-state relative or friend for all family members to connect with. Your family can know your condition and location through an established contact person, which will make a whole lot less stress for them and you.

Keep Calm: No matter what events happen, maintain a level of calm. You’re more likely to think clearly when you’ve got your wits and you’ll be a greater help to others.