LINCROFT, N.J. -- As September draws closer, families throughout New Jersey are preparing to send their sons and daughters off to college – and many of those students will be away from home for the first time.
Being on their own for the first time can be challenging. While students will soon settle in and enjoy their college routine, that transition may be a little easier if they know they can handle themselves in an emergency.
As you plan for their practical needs during their months away from home – climate-appropriate clothing, dorm supplies, medications and toiletries – be sure to include some items that will come in handy in an emergency.
Whether it’s as simple as a power outage or as challenging as a storm like Sandy, being prepared can help your college student remain safe and deal calmly with the situation while helping other classmates to do the same.
Having a disaster readiness kit on hand can go a long way toward keeping your student safe and feeling secure in a challenging situation. A kit can be as simple as a backpack containing items like a flashlight, a small radio, extra batteries, a solar-powered or hand-cranked cell phone charger, energy bars, water and first aid supplies.
These days, most colleges have emergency plans that outline procedures in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.
Check the college’s website to see if its plans are posted. If not, call the admissions officer to request a copy of the plan and to confirm that your student is registered with its emergency notification system.
Make sure that your son or daughter updates their cell phone contacts and adds an “In Case of Emergency” number in their contact list. Remind them that cell phone service may be unreliable in the aftermath of a disaster. Texting or communicating via social media may be possible when phone calls are not.
Work out a family communications plan with your college-bound student so that she or he will know where to get in touch with you at any time, or where to 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 with your homeowners’ insurance company to see if your policy covers your student’s belongings at school. If not, you may need to purchase an additional rental policy to cover items in your student’s dorm room.
Advise your student to keep their emergency kit under the bed or on the top shelf of a closet where it will be easily accessible in an emergency.
Ready-made disaster kits designed for students can be ordered from the American Red Cross at www.redcrossstore.org. Information on compiling your own disaster readiness kit is available on the web at www.fema.gov.
For more information on building a basic disaster kit and developing a family communications plan, go to www.ready.gov.
Weathering a disaster can be similar to passing a challenging course – all it takes is doing your homework, and staying prepared.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
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