As the school year approaches, many young adults are preparing to head off to college or a trade school. Many will be truly on their own for the first time, which can be challenging. While students will soon settle in to enjoy their new surroundings and routine, the transition may be a little less stressful if they know how to handle themselves in an emergency.
This article is directed to you, the student, preparing to head out, whether for the first time, or again after summer break, or even a longer hiatus. Of course parents and siblings, please read along; some of these tips apply to you, also, and will help you support your student.
Whether it be as simple as a power outage or as challenging as a massive snow storm, being prepared can help students to remain safe and deal calmly with different situations. A disaster can occur when you least expect it, and regardless of where you happen to be at the time — at home, work, or school — being prepared helps ensure the best possible outcome.
First learn what types of emergencies/hazards that can potentially affect your area of residence. Knowing this helps in understanding how to respond to the events.
Most colleges and universities have emergency plans that outline the procedures in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. Check their website to see if its plans are posted. If not, call the admissions officer to request a copy of their plan.
Next you should build an emergency kit with the right supplies. The kit can be as simple as a backpack containing items like a flashlight, a small radio, extra batteries, a solar-powered or hand-cranked cell phone charger, energy bars, water and first aid supplies. You are encouraged to go back and read the Grab & Go Bags article printed April 10, 2019, and the First Aid Kits article published March 17, 2019, for a lot more details. Keep your kit under the bed or on the top shelf of a closet where it will be easily accessible in an emergency.
Students (and family members) should update their cell phone contacts and add an “In Case of Emergency” number in their contact list. Remember that cell service may be unreliable in the aftermath of a disaster; texting or communicating via social media may be possible even when phone calls are not. Also, be sure you have the Campus Security phone number programmed into your phone for quick calling, if necessary.
Work out a family communications plan so that you will know how to get in touch with each other at any time. Develop a list of contacts. Decide who to call/text first or where to leave a message and who would be a good backup. Sometimes an out-of-state contact person is a good choice. It is often easier to call long distance than locally during an emergency situation. Prepare an emergency information sheet listing the names, locations and phone numbers for family members, physicians, medical insurance, and other important resources.
Almost all colleges now have some form of Emergency Alert or Warning system that allows the school to reach students, faculty, staff, and sometimes family members in case of a campus wide emergency. This emergency might range from an active shooter on campus to a weather emergency. Make sure that you are registered in the system and that your contact information is accurate.
Although unlikely, in certain disaster situations it could become necessary to evacuate campus.
Preparing for an emergency evacuation before there is an eminent danger will lessen the stress and increase the effectiveness of the evacuation.
Discuss in advance where to go in case of a campus evacuation. Determine how you will exit your apartment, dorm, or house. Know at least two ways to get out. Determine the most practical means by which you could leave campus. Personal car, -Ride with a friend or sibling. -Parent or relative pick up. Set up driving routes and meeting places.
If you find yourself in an emergency situation, then remember as soon as possible, let a designated person know that you are safe.
Schooling brings so many adventures; being prepared makes it that much easier to enjoy.