The Do 1 Thing site won the Awareness to Action category of FEMA’s 2014 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards. It’s a 12-month program of small steps that you can take to increase your personal and household preparedness. Throughout 2015, DEM will feature Do 1 Thing items during our weekly blog post series of One Thing Wednesdays. Check back here every week for a new preparedness activity or tip!
While July’s major theme is communication, we’re taking a break this week to write about a more focused item: preparedness for college students. Next month, millions of parents will send their kids away to college, many for the first time. Moving out means big changes – including leaving the family disaster plan and emergency kits behind.
Communication (okay, we are touching on it)
If you’re one of those parents, now is a good time to talk to your college student about how you’ll stay in contact if a disaster happens – at school or in your hometown. Be sure everyone understands that cell phones may not work in a large-scale disaster. Establish an emergency contact person who lives in a third city (neither in your hometown nor near the school) and agree that you’ll check in with that person if you and your student can’t reach each other.
Check the school’s website to learn more about the school’s emergency plans (start with the university’s office of emergency management, police department, or public safety department). Find the phone number to use for contacting the school in an emergency. If it’s not clearly posted, ask one of the departments we just mentioned – or the admissions office.
Every university should have an emergency notification system for alerting students, faculty, and staff to on-campus emergencies. Make sure your student is registered to receive phone calls or texts.
Remind your student to look for the dorm emergency plan (or ask their resident assistant for it) so they know where to go for tornado warnings, fire alarms, and other incidents.
Ask your insurance agent if your homeowner’s or renter’s policy covers your student’s property away from home. You may need an additional renter’s policy. Also, check with your health insurance provider to see if campus health services are covered – and if not, where your student can find covered services.
Space is limited in dorm rooms, but it’s still possible to send your student to school with a good, compact emergency kit. See our previous blog post for ideas on what to include. Be sure to check university housing policies and avoid including any prohibited items.
Many university emergency management offices hold September outreach events to reach new student residents during National Preparedness Month. Encourage your student to attend these – or to look into the availability of a Campus CERT (C-CERT) program.