Friday, July 11, 2008

Preparing for college means more than studying for the SATs

Congratulations, high school graduates! Your tassels have been turned and caps thrown in the air. For those going on to college, a new journey awaits. But before heading to campus with your laptop and books, consider packing a few more things in your bag.

University life can present many challenges, not the least of which are final exams. Outbreaks of infectious disease, natural disasters and other emergencies can force schools, including the dining hall, to shut down for a period of time. Surveys have indicated that most people have not created emergency preparedness plans and are unprepared for an emergency. Being at school and away from home and family presents additional challenges. Knowing what to do and having a plan can make all the difference in the time of an emergency.

To help plan ahead, talk with your resident advisor or student life office about your school's emergency preparedness plan. Check out your school's Web site for information concerning evacuation plans and drills. Familiarize yourself with the plans and keep important phone numbers in a safe place such as your emergency preparedness kit.

If you don't have a kit, make one. As you buy your twin sheet sets and shower shoes, pick up items for an emergency preparedness kit too. You'll need things like a flashlight, bottled water, batteries and canned food.

Supplies for the kit should last about three days, but if you're able and have room, pack in a little more in case of an extended emergency. If your dorm room is small and storage space is limited, check to see if your dorm has a central storage area.

You've worked hard to get here. A little more preparing can help keep you safe and healthy on "College Hill" no matter what threats you face.

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