In Case of Emergency

You should always prepare for the unexpected when you’re in college. You’re away from home, so you don’t have your parents to take care of you and keep you updated on the impending doom that’s about to roll over you. Whether it be severe weather, environmental hazards, natural disasters, a pandemic, or an alien invasion, you need to keep up to date with what’s going on and to know what to do in the event when something does happen.

So where to start? Most universities provide emergency updates (it’s required by law that they do this, I do believe) to ensure their safety. This is done through your student email, but you can have those forwarded to your primary email in case if you don’t check them regularly. In fact, Dartmouth College (it’s one of those Ivy League schools) has an emergency preparedness webpage, giving you useful information on  how to prepare and what to do in case of an emergency.

To prepared for an emergency (most likely that of severe weather or a natural disaster), you should have an Emergency Kit stored away someplace that’s safe and accessible. here’s a list of things you should have in your Emergency Kit:

  • Consumables such as food and water. Food should be non-perishable, so anything that’s canned or dried should be good.
  • Survival items such as a first aid kit, an LED flashlight, sleeping bags/blankets, and a dust mask (for dust, smoke, and airborne pathogens).
  • A communication device, such as a cell phone. Keep a charger on you just in case.
  • A battery-powered radio tuned in to NOAA for weather updates. Keep extra batteries just in case.
  • Pens and paper.
  • Waterproof bag to seal important documents such as ID, passport and insurance cards.
  • List of emergency emergency numbers that your campus has provided. Write them down and keep them in your Emergency Kit.
  • A road map in case if you have to leave to someplace safer, with your route planned out. Google Maps works too, but it may not do you much good in the event of a zombie apocalypse or a nuclear holocaust. Or if your phone dies. Money would be good to have on you too.

Now there are many types of emergencies, but I’m going to narrow it down to just two categories. One type of emergency pertains to the general area whether it be in your county or along the entire Atlantic Coast and the other type of emergency is exclusive to just the campus itself:

Natural Disasters

At this time of year, the worst of Hurricane Season would normally be over, but if last year’s Superstorm was any testament, Nature could have another surprise in store for us. Not only that, but you have blizzards and snowstorms to worry about up north as winter draws closer, and if you move further west, you have tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and all that fun stuff to worry about.

If faced with any of these, the first thing to do is stay calm. In the event of severe weather, you need to stay indoors and turn off all electrical equipment (anything that needs to be plugged in, that is). If there’s a flood, then you’re going to need to seek higher ground, eve if that means seeking refuge on top of a building (be sure to bring sunscreen). If there’s a tornado or an earthquake, you’ll want to do just the opposite; the darker the room, the better (in fact, it’s better if you don’t see anything at all). Stay in a secure, enclosed area if anything. If you must be evacuated, continue to remain calm, keep informed, and cooperate with emergency personnel when they arrive.

Campus-Wide Emergencies

There are a variety of emergencies that can happen that are only exclusive to the campus. Examples are fires, suspicious activity, bomb threats, and potentially dangerous objects. If a fire ever happens, use CARE (Contain, Activate, Report, Evacuate); close all doors as you leave, pull the nearest fire alarm, call 911, and leaves the premises immediately.  If you ever receive a bomb threat, write down as much information as you can during the call and even ask questions if you can. When finish call 911 and report everything to the police. If you find a package or device that appears to be a bomb, call 911 and leave it alone (and I mean LEAVE IT alone). If you see any suspicious activity, get as far away from the incident/individuals as can and lock yourself up someplace safe. Call 911 and report the incident along with as much information as you can provide.

Now it’s more likely that many of these instances will be reported by someone other than yourself. If it does happen and you receive an alert from your campus about the situation, follow the instructions that they’ve provided to the best of your ability.

One thing you should be sure to do is check your college’s website on specific instruction on what to do in case if anything that I’ve mentioned above does happen. Some universities even have live feeds on weather updates and campus alerts, which would be good to know of. If you want to take it a step further, you can to and enter in your email address to subscribe to an extensive list of updates (you can pick and choose) that pertain to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration). That way, you’ll know of your impending doom before your campus does.