Times of emergency can be frightening, especially so when you’re away from home and family at college. It’s fun and safe to be at college, but the truth still remains that it is not disaster-proof. What would you do, as a student, if you were faced with an unexpected disaster while you’re in campus?
It is increasingly common for students to plan ahead for any sort of catastrophic scenario, be it a hypothetical apocalyptic event, now colloquially called SHTF situation, or a natural disaster. Some find it thought-provoking and go along with this tendency, but the majority of students do believe in survival tactics and prepping in earnest for any possible chaotic episode.
Because prepping has become such a recurrent practice amongst the student community, here are some suggestions to make “disaster planning” and prepping easier.
The Bug Out Bag
This is the first step in planning for any disastrous scenario: putting together a bug out bag. This is mainstream terminology for an emergency kit.
Acquiring the necessary items for the bug out bag might be an expensive endeavour, so the best option is to buy piece by piece, not everything at the same time. Walmart is one of the best places to go to in terms of range and price. Bear in mind, however, that when you’re putting the bag together you must pack seasonally.
You’ll need different items for Summer and Winter, for instance. Also, you need to be conscious of the distance you intend to travel to you chosen hideout spot. If it’s close to you, stick to the bare essentials. If it’s further away from your campus, consider packing a few more things in case you can’t resupply until you arrive to your destination.
Here’s a short list of items that are essential in any bug out bag:
- Food or snacks that can be eaten on the go
- Water bottles
- Survival tabs to manage hunger
- Devices to purify water, like filters
- First aid kit
- A knife
- Phone charger
- A written list of contacts you might reach out to for help
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Means of defense
- Any prescribed medication that you cannot forego
- Materials for temporary shelter
- Some form of personal ID
In terms of having a means of defense, it can be a bit tricky, especially for students. Most colleges do not allow concealed carry on weapons on campus. The states that do allow weapons on campus are: Texas, Colorado, Idaho, Arkansas, Oregon, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Utah and Tennessee. The best option in this aspect is to resort instead to pepper spray, so familiarize yourself with how to use it and the rules that apply to it.
Keep your bag ready to go and stored away, if possible, in a closet in your dorm room.
Ideally, every student would own their vehicle in order to go back home, or to another safe spot of your choice in a SHTF situation. The means to get on a plane would also be of great help. However, the reality of the matter is that not every student can afford these options. College fees are a drain on finances as it is.
The best alternative is a bicycle. If you can make sure the bicycle won’t be stolen when you leave it outside your dorm, choose a mountain bike. If you feel it’s risky to leave it unwatched outside, even if locked up, you can always opt for foldable bicycles, which can be stored under your own bed.
“Regardless of your choice of transportation, a good idea is to have reasonable knowledge of several routes that will take you back home or to your hideout. Google maps is your best tool with this,” explains Kate Liam, a writer at Dissertation Writing and BigAssignments. Explore all the alternatives. Once you’re acquainted with the number of routes available, try to visit your chosen location through these different options. This will allow you to know whether they are safe, if there are any available resources throughout the route that will come in handy in your journey, and what possible difficulties you may encounter.
There are a lot of official preparedness measures when it comes to natural disasters. Examples of these are:
- Disaster prepping plans are usually available for your student housing or dorm, so try to get information on the location of fire extinguishers and emergency exits, call boxes and generators. Always be aware of the college’s emergency drills and, if necessary, create your own.
- Contact emergency organizations for your college’s city planning. They will provide you with information about college student-specific disaster planning.
- Phone systems are usually too busy or simply down during and after disasters. Use text messaging or social media as opposed to phone calls to keep in touch with your friends and family. Keep your phone charged and download disaster preparedness apps to track weather changes and emergency resources in your area.
- Try to plan for emergencies with your roommates, including a meeting place when you can keep track of each other. Exchange contact information for family and friends.
- Create an inventory of the belongings you keep at your college residence. You may make post-disaster rental insurance claims.
- If you keep pets at college, make sure you have a contingency plan, as emergency shelters might not take them.
3 Most Common Natural Disasters
The most common disasters you may have to deal with are floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. There are few warning signs for each of these scenarios and specific measures to take during and after each disaster. Here are a few tips to help you when you’re in college and find yourself face to face with danger:
Floods can happen anywhere in America and are a result of events such as coastal storms, overflows from different water systems and heavy rain. Before a flood, learn from your college where you should move your belonging to in your building. Keep your mementos stored in waterproof containers.
When you hear about a flood watch, try to confirm it by consulting weather apps and local radio and TV stations. During a flood, move to higher ground and never attempt to drive or walk through floodwaters. Stay clear of downed wires and abandon your vehicle should you find yourself in an area that has rapidly rising waters. After a flood, don’t try to return to your residence until you have clear permission from the authorities.
Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights to inspect your residence and be aware of the policies for re-entering and cleaning up put in place by your college for student housing.
There’s little warning for earthquakes, so even if your campus is in an area prone to these events, don’t assume you know everything and ignore safety drills. Before an earthquake, participate in your college’s “Shake Out Drills” and learn the vulnerabilities of your college residence and designated locations for safe places to go to in the building. “Always keep heavy items stored in bottom shelves.
During an earthquake, move away from exterior doors and windows. Take cover under a table or desk, lie down and curl up, if possible, while covering your head, spine and chest areas,” suggests Sarah Stone, a prepper at Nursing Essay and Paperfellows. If you’re outside, get away from power lines, buildings and trees. Do not use elevators!
After an earthquake, be prepared for aftershocks, so be patient and don’t abandon shelter unless it is 100% safe to do so. If no one in your college residence is hurt, put a sign on the door saying, “all OK”, so emergency services move on to those who need help.
These are storm systems formed over warm ocean waters and then move to land, bringing powerful winds, storm surges and tornados. Before and during a hurricane, be prepared for evacuation, especially if you’re on the coastlines, and before leaving when being evacuated, lock all windows and doors.
Don’t forget to unplug electrical devices. Call your emergency contact person to inform them of your evacuation plans. If you’re not told to evacuate, stay put and ensure your battery-powered radio is close to you.
When at college, even if your location is not susceptible to a coastal storm surge, go to a common room in a building designated by the college. After a hurricane, be on the lookout for tornados and sniff for gas leaks. If you suspect a leak, open windows and evacuate the unit.
Get the campus housing to restore electricity, and before cleaning up debris prepare an inventory of all damaged personal property. Ask your campus to make temporary repairs to prevent any further damage and keep a record of all the people you talk to regarding your insurance claim.
Always keep an eye on the news, either on TV or social media. Knowing what’s going on in the world will give you a better idea of what is more likely to happen in the event of a SHTF situation or natural disaster. Keep constant track of weather changes.
When a situation of this type occurs, students should try to keep their homes as the first port of call to go back to. Ask your parents for help planning out these routes, but also have them work with you on alternative escape plans. After all, it’s all about being prepared!
Beatrix Potter is a prolific writer of prepping for college students, and tutors at Ukwritings.com. She is also a professional travel writer for Do My Assignment websites, and regularly blogs at Order Research Paper portal.