When you go off to college for the first time it is a good idea to prepare for an emergency, in case there is one. College websites usually have this information today, but if yours does not include emergency preparedness check with the local Red Cross Chapter. To prepare for an emergency there are simple things to pack and to talk about before you leave. Keep in mind that most universities do not have a stockpile of emergency supplies sufficient for all of the people on campus.
Although most college dorms have an evacuation plan students may not be aware of it when they get to their room. Find out how to get out in case of an emergency. Talk to your family about how you will contact them in case there is an emergency. Having a mutual friend, out of state that can be contacted will help both of you keep in contact. Make sure you understand how to get to a shelter or the basement of the building to get out of the line of the problem area.
No matter what the emergency, if it is a natural disaster, you can be sure that food and water are good. The rule for college is the same for home: have at least 3 gallons of water for up to three days on hand, just in case. It is also a good idea to have water purification tablets in areas where there is flooding. Pack self-heating meals as well as dried foods, nuts and other non-perishable food. Energy drinks or energy bars are great emergency food; check expiration dates every six months and keep them updated. A simple bucket of freeze-dried food will provide weeks of nutrition.
Another important item is an Emergency Crank radio. These radios have several sources of power such as Solar, Crank, Battery, A/C power, and even regular batteries that you can put into them to power them up. They come with a built-in LED Flashlight, for light anytime and anywhere. Most kids today have an i-pod for their music, but not a way to stay informed when the power is interrupted. In today’s world where an act of terrorism can put colleges into a lockdown mode that could last many hours, having a device that never needs batteries can keep your child informed. A radio with NOAA weather radio and alert gives up-to-the-minute information about weather and other emergencies.
A GMRS/FRS radio may only have a 30-mile range. But it could be a key way to communicate or signal someone in an emergency. If you live within range, your student can contact you even if the phone system is down. Perhaps there’s someone else local to the school that the student will contact on the radio in the event of an emergency. It’s an inexpensive way to have another channel of communication.
While you may be able to shelter in a dormitory, it’s likely that you may need to evacuate to a shelter. Make sure you have your own personal emergency kit. Purchase a 72 hour kit because it has everything you need and it's carried in a backpack. If you have special medications make sure you have a list in their kit and put another list somewhere in the dorm. Keep extra medications if you have needs like asthma, heart conditions or other medical needs.
When you are in a dormitory or an apartment off campus, keep the information about emergency contacts next to your phone. You will want to know the local radio stations and where they are on the radio, as well as police, fire and other emergency numbers. Although you can call 911 in most situations you will want to make sure you have more than a few options.