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Essential Disaster Preparedness Tips for College Students

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Editor’s Note: Today’s article is courtesy of Gloria Kopp. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter the Prepper Journal’s Writing Contest today.


No one likes to think about it, but disasters can happen anywhere, and that includes at college. If you’re studying away from home, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place, just in case the worst happens. How you view your own personal disaster preparedness options could be the difference between life and death. Here’s what you should do if a disaster happens at your school.

Prepare before the worst happens

Being prepared is the key to avoiding the worst in any disaster. If you take the time now to get a plan together, you’ll be a step ahead if anything occurs:

  • Find out what’s likely in your area: Depending on where you’re studying, you could be at risks of floods, or maybe earthquakes. Take the time to look up what natural disasters are likely to occur in your area. That way, you can start planning for these properly.
  • Put essential contacts in your phone: If you don’t have your emergency contacts in your phone, now’s the time to program them in. “When you do so, make sure you start the contact name with ‘ICE’ or ‘In Case of Emergency’. That way, emergency workers can easily contact the right people if needs be”, – says Emelle Ruth, a College Coordinator at Paper Fellows.
  • Know your escape routes: In the buildings you frequent most, like your dorms or your classrooms, know where your nearest exits are. In the event of a disaster like a fire, you’re going to need to know how to get out quickly. It’s worth practicing these routes a few times, so you know where you’re going if the eventuality occurs.
  • Take a course in first aid: This is always a useful skill to have, but especially in a disaster situation. A course in first aid or CPR won’t cost you much, but you’ll have the means to help yourself and others if the time comes.

Make a disaster kit

Another good way of making sure you’re prepared is to make a disaster kit. Keep it stored in a safe place in your dorm, and you’ll be ready if you find yourself without power, or stranded in the building or an extended period of time. This should include:

  • First aid kit: This doesn’t have to be too involved, but you will need the essentials. Buy items such as bandages, non aspirin painkillers, anti septic cream, burn spray, and gloves. Make sure you have enough to patch somebody up if you need to.
  • Food and water: Keep some non perishable food around, as well as a few large bottles of water. The water will be a great help if the water is cut off, and the food should last for a few days if needed. Check the dates on the food regularly, as even emergency rations do have an expiry date.
  • Flashlight: Essential if the lights are shut off. Make sure you put fresh batteries in it, and put away some spares, too.
  • Blankets: If the heat goes off and it’s the middle of winter, you’re going to want an easy way of staying warm. A pile of thick, warm blankets will do the trick.

Prepare for the most common emergencies

Now you have the basics down, you’ll need to ensure that you’re prepared, no matter what happens. Here are some of the more common emergencies that happen, and how to deal with them.

Fire

Fires can happen anywhere, but they’re an eventuality that most schools are actually well prepared for. Mary Walton, psychologist and author of SimpleGrad comments the issue: “When you start at your school, you’ll have the fire alarm system explained to you. Ensure that you’re listening carefully, as there’s a lot of important information you’ll need to know”.

Typically, you’ll see fire exits clearly marked in every building you go into. If you hear the alarm go off, you need to exit using these routes, without stopping to collect your belongings. At your school there will be clearly marked meeting points. Make your way there, and wait for further instructions.

If you encounter a fire, the best thing to do is to set off the fire alarm yourself, and then exit the building. If you have the means to fight it and you feel safe to do so, you can attempt to put it out yourself. If you’re unsure though, it’s best to remove yourself from danger.

Earthquake

There’s no pre-warning system in place for when an earthquake hits, so the first you’ll know of it is when it happens. However, you can still keep yourself safe.

If you’re in class, your teacher will instruct you to drop to the ground and take shelter under the desks until the earthquake subsides. Then, they’ll evacuate you as soon as it’s over. This is to get you to safety before aftershocks occur.

Hurricanes

These sound frightening, but you’ll usually get good warning before a hurricane reaches you. This means you can be prepared.

Make sure you’re paying attention to warnings when they occur. Take heed, and get to safety as soon as you can. Your school will have a plan to get students out of danger, and into a safe place, so look into yours. You’ll want to stay away from buildings with large windows, as the risk of breaking glass is high.

Tornadoes

Tornadoes can have up to 3 minutes warning time, but they can often have little to no warning at all. Once they form, they move quickly, so you must be prepared. The key is to move quickly once you know it’s coming.

You’ll want to evacuate to an area that’s lowest on your campus, and stay away from any span roofs or windows. Staying crouched down on the floor is the safest place to be, until the tornado passes. Your school will hold drills for this kind of emergency, so make sure you’re paying attention during them.

Disasters sound frightening but you can get through them if you’re prepared. Use these tips to get a plan together, and know what to do if the worst happens. Being prepared is the best way to get through any disaster.

About the author: Gloria Kopp is a content manager and an elearning consultant from Manville city. She graduated from University of Wyoming and started a career of a business writer and an educator, now she works as a tutor at Assignment help company. Besides, she is a regular contributor to such websites as Engadget, Academized, Huffingtonpost etc. Read her latest blog post here.

7 Comments

  1. Mainer

    June 14, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Type out three or four names and numbers of important contacts and tape them to the back of your phone. Who remembers phone numbers these days? Makes it easier for emergency responders, and if your phone dies, you can borrow someone else’s phone to call loved ones.

  2. Mike Harris

    June 15, 2017 at 1:26 am

    While your “disaster kit” hits on the basics I suppose it seems very unrealistic for the actual needs of your typical college students. Especially in this day in age it’s really hard to judge the preparedness needs or even desires of a millennia that thinks being up to his, her, or “its” (for the SJW out there) eyeballs in debt will somehow help them in the long run, but I digress. Due to the lack of space in the modern day dorm not to mention the fact that bugging into a situation where you are surrounded by young, dumb and incredible volatile “big children” I would most recommend a bug out plan (which actually more likely translates to a camping in your car plan). Along with the above-mentioned items it’s important to note that college students use their phones 10 out the 24 hours in a day according to National studies. So in any emergency its important to note that after live feeding, snapchating, facebooking, instagraming, tweeting and the various other ways it will be shared via social media the phone battery will be pretty drained so having a couple of external power packs on hand would be a great idea (communication abilities are important). An extra set of warm clothes because while blankets are great, they are pretty unrealistic to have on hand especially in ones car (due to the bulk). Also in case of a natural disaster when complete loss of belongings is congruent with the disaster scenario it’s important to have important files (picture/government ids, social security, birth certificate, transcripts, documents personal media ect) saved on some kind of memory item on ones person or in a safe place. Having cash on hand is super important for due to that fact that digital currency is the first to go in any disaster. Lastly I would recommend having an extra 5 gallons of fuel in ones trunk for obvious reasons. I personally believe there is much more to behold to make one more prepared but I honestly feel this is all that can be reasonable expected from a college student. Because the reality is in a real life event lasting longer then a couple days if they can’t find refuge (FEMA Camp, “state sponsored” or “private sponsored”). They will be at the whim of the more volatile populace.

    • the Deplorabel Cruella DeVille

      June 15, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Mike: Agree with everything you have noted…
      What we did for my wife’s nephews & nieces was to provide them with get home bags set up for five days of emergency supplies and the bits needed to walk home – roughly 60 miles. That noted though: they were all experienced camper/hunters who thought nothing of spending an entire day in the woods, in the cold rain/snow/wind, and then setting up camp for the night, and repeating it the next day. Think the Adirondacks or UP of MI during deer season.
      We did add some thumb drives for the doc photos, and a laminated credit card size piece of card stock with all their ICE info. We also made very sure that the bags had combination style cable locks securing the flaps. I didn’t trust their room mates as far as I could throw them….

      • Mike Harris

        June 15, 2017 at 2:05 pm

        You actually hit on the most important thing in preparedness, its what I was touching on in this comment through euphemism. That is mind set, most adults especially millennials do not have the proper mind set to fair a disaster situation effectively enough to preserve their own lives. I could give a college child my own bag equipped with enough supplies to easily last a week and I still believe it wouldn’t help them after a couple of days. It all comes down to mindset and the will to do what is necessary. I know there are exceptions to this rule and i’m glad your family is one of perseverance and sheer know how. It’s also refreshing to see that people are taking a realistic approach to the reality of not only distance but the mindset of people! Keep Calm and Prep On!

        • the Deplorabel Cruella DeVille

          June 15, 2017 at 3:02 pm

          Well, as a continuation – one of the nephews & his relatively new wife, are finally purchasing their first home. A nice old farmhouse on 10 acres in the sticks. Already gutted, so easy to properly insulate/wire/plumb.
          Their house warming gift from us is a 200W solar set, a 12/24vdc deep well pump with wires, 200′ of pex, and a milsurp potable water bladder to put in their attic. I’ll help them hook it all into the existing plumbing…
          To heck with the $%^& china set….

          • Mike Harris

            June 15, 2017 at 3:12 pm

            Thats great, creating new norms based upon realistic and effect means is always the way to go. its also great that you are involved as well. A family that preps together stays together!

  3. Francesca Coleman

    June 15, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    College students should also sign up for their school alert program active shooters are prevalent on college campuses these days. Most importantly while scouting out colleges ask your recruiter or tour guide about the schools emergency preparedness plan/lock down procedures keep non perishable food in your room in a bin should you be locked down for weather or man made reasons those portable chargers come in real handy indigestion a solar one clip it to your book bag/edc bag all of them can be charged in a wall outlet ahead of time

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