As September draws close, families throughout the country are preparing to send their teenagers to college— many of whom will be away from home for the first time. As students settle into their college routines, the transition may be easier if they know they are prepared to handle themselves in emergencies.
Whether it’s as simple as a power outage or as challenging as a super storm like Sandy, being prepared can help your child remain safe so he or she can calmly handle the situation and even potentially help other classmates do the same. So, as you plan for your son or daughter’s practical needs during their months away, such as clothing, dorm supplies, medications and toiletries, don’t forget to also provide items to help them in emergencies. Teach your student that weathering a disaster can be similar to passing a challenging course. All it takes is doing their homework and staying prepared!
Here are things to purchase and/or assemble for your college-bound student:
- Put together a Disaster Readiness Kit, which should include a flashlight, small radio, extra batteries, a solar-powered or hand-cranked cell phone charger, energy bars, water, and first aid supplies. Ready-made disaster kits designed for students can be ordered from the American Red Cross. Information about compiling your own disaster readiness kit is available at Fema.gov. For more information about building a basic disaster kit and developing a family communications plan, go to Ready.gov.
- Make sure your child knows their college’s Disaster Management Plan. Schools today outline procedures for safely handling natural and manmade disasters and include them in manuals. If your child isn’t automatically issued a copy of the plan, secure one. Check the website to see if its plans are posted or call an admissions officer to request a copy and to confirm that your student is registered with its emergency notification system.
- Suggest your son or daughter update their cell phone contact list and adds a contact called “In Case of Emergency.” Remind them that cell phone service may be unreliable in the aftermath of a disaster. When cell phone calls can’t be placed, texting or communicating via social media may be possible.
- Create a Family Communications Plan so your student knows where to contact you and your family at any given time. Also let them know where they can leave a message if communications between home and school are disrupted.
- Prepare an emergency information sheet listing the names, locations and phone numbers for family members, physicians, medical insurance, and other important resources.
- Check your homeowners’ or rental insurance policy to make sure covers your student’s belongings at school.
You might need to purchase an additional policy to cover items in your student’s dorm room.
- Advise your student to keep their emergency kit under their bed or on the top shelf of a closet so it will be easily accessible in an emergency.
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