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Dealing with a Natural Disaster or Emergency in College

October 25th, 2007 admin

By now you have probably heard about the wildfires spreading throughout San Diego, which also happen to be the reason I didn’t post on Monday. They have been burning for three days, and we still don’t know when they will be under control, so for now we are just praying for the best.

This has brought back memories of my first year of college, when fires shut down the UCSD campus for a week. It was really scary, and I had no car and no way to get home, so I had to stay in the dorms with some other kids. I wanted to give you a few thoughts about what you can do if you find yourself in this kind of situation.

Be Prepared. There are a lot of resources for how to prepare yourself for an emergency situation. Check out the links below:

Red Cross – Get Prepared and Preparing at Home
Ready.gov
72hours.org
Preparing an Emergency Kit

Stay calm. This is the hardest piece of advice, but you really have to keep your wits about you if you find yourself near a fire, in an earthquake, flood, or other natural disaster. You might have to make some tough decisions, and panicking will just make that harder.

Get in touch with home if you can. Talking to your parents will make both of you feel better—it lets them know you’re okay, and they can help you figure out what steps to take next.

Listen to the authorities (your RA, your school, the government, etc). One of the biggest reasons that people get hurt or in trouble during natural disasters is that they won’t listen to the people who know what is going on. If the police tell you to evacuate, you need to do it. If the news says to stay inside and away from smoke, pay attention! It will save you a lot of time and trouble.

Get supplies together—just in case. If you have the time and capability, you should make sure you have any supplies you might need. Start with non-perishable foods, water, first aid supplies like medication, antiseptic and band aids, a flashlight, and batteries. Then add on whatever else you might need depending on your situation. If you’re evacuating, for example, don’t forget extra clothes and underwear and a blanket. The nice thing about being on a college campus, is that they will take a lot of responsibility for you. In most cases, college staff or older students will be there to help you get wherever you need to go, and make sure you have shelter and food.

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