Dorm Room Preparedness: How to be prepared while away at college

College Campus

We all remember that time in life where we thought we were indestructible; a time when we thought nothing could touch us. Unfortunately, that sense of being untouchable is something that often gets us into trouble; it’s also something that prevents many college-age people from thinking about topics like preparedness.

For those who have considered the need to prepare for crisis and disasters, or parents who are concerned with their child’s safety while away at campus, the challenges of preparing while away at school can be pretty daunting.

Preparedness Challenges while away at school include:

  • Finding enough space to store emergency supplies: To say most college dorm rooms aren’t much larger than a shoe box, probably isn’t that far from the truth. Most college dorm rooms are notoriously small, making it extremely difficult to keep an adequate stockpile of emergency food and supplies on hand.
  • Liberal policies that threaten your safety on campus: Most college campuses in this country have become extremely anti-safety, choosing to put politics ahead of their student’s wellbeing. Over the last couple of decades, it’s become almost impossible to find a college campus that allows students to carry a firearm, or any other personal safety device.
  • Adjusting to a new area and understanding the threats: Many new students are at an immediate disadvantage, simply because they’re unfamiliar with the threats associated with their new living environment – this is particularly true for rural students who attend college in an urban area.

While these challenges present a number of obstacles, there are some things you can do to help ensure your safety.

Keep a stockpile of emergency supplies and food.

Because space is often an issue, keeping a large supply of emergency gear, food, and water is probably going to be a bit of a challenge. While it may be hard to find the space, you need to figure out a way to stockpile enough supplies to make it safely through a crisis situation. I advise having at least a week’s worth of emergency food and water; if you have the space, two weeks is the optimal time frame that you should plan for.

  • Keep a Get Home Bag filled with emergency supplies in your vehicle. During a disaster, you want to be able to quickly make your way back home. Keeping a bag filled with supplies in your vehicle, can be a good way to save space. It will also ensure you have everything you need when disaster strikes.
  • If room is tight, you should at the very least have a bugout bag. A bugout bag is similar to a get home bag, but usually kept at your primary residence. It’s something you should be able to grab at a moment’s notice, and is filled with just the essential; things like food, water, clothing, and emergency supplies. In a college situation, I advise stocking up on ready to eat food, things like canned food, protein bars and food that doesn’t require a lot of preparation or cooking.
  • Invest in under-the-bed storage boxes. These are great in a college situation because they are easy to conceal, and are a great place to stash some extra emergency water, supplies, and food. Keep in mind that the supplies you stockpile while at college, are probably going to look a lot different from what you would stockpile during a more permanent living situation.
  • Always carry an EDC with you at all times. Since most of your time is often spent away from the dorm room, you want to have certain things with you while traveling around campus. EDC stands for Every Day Carry, and is essentially a small emergency kit filled with things you should always have on you. What goes into your EDC will depend on your unique survival needs, but in general, it should contain basic supplies that will hold you over until you can safely make your way back to your main stockpile of survival goods. I advise trading in that ordinary book bag for something more substantial like a hiking bag or military pack. The added space will allow you to carry emergency survival items with your while you’re in class.

Have an evacuation plan.

Once you select a school, you need to start drawing up your emergency plans and figure out exactly how you’ll deal with the most likely threats and disasters.

  • Make sure you map out multiple evacuation routes, and make sure you keep that plan with you at all times. Saving these plans to a PDF, and then storing them on your phone, laptop, and tablet can be a good way to ensure you always have them with you when you need them.
  • Put together an emergency communication plan. Have a designated point of contact who you immediately call, text, or get a hold of, who can then communicate your plans to your loved ones. During most disasters, communication is one of the first things to go out. Communicating your plan is extremely important and will help put your family’s minds at ease.
  • Do some Recon. Once you get to campus, take some time familiarize yourself with the neighborhood, the school, and any areas where you routinely travel. Know your routes, and take note of any areas that look like they could be a threat. Make sure you have a plan to quickly make it back home, or to your vehicle if you need to evacuate.
  • Never let your vehicle fall below half a tank of gas. You never want to let your tank fall below the halfway mark. During a disaster, your ability to quickly make it out of the danger zone is going to determine your fate.

Take college safety and self-defense issues seriously.

Personally I don’t think I would let my kids go to a college that didn’t allow guns on campus. Unfortunately, most of this country’s colleges are now gun-free zones; making everyone on campus an easy target for the sickos of the world, who know they can get away with targeting these types of places.

  • When choosing a school make sure you take a serious look at past crime statistics. Don’t just take the school’s word; do your own research, ask around, and find out as much as you can about the school’s policy on self-defense.
  • Find out what the school’s gun policy is. Can you conceal carry, or does the school prohibit students from protecting themselves?
  • Invest in my book. I know, another shameless plug for my book, but I promise you that the chapter on crime is probably one of the most important things you’ll ever read when it comes to protecting yourself – especially when you’re away at college. The threats that you’re going to face are very real; college campuses can be a haven for criminals, and those looking to take advantage of vulnerable college students.
  • Develop your Situational Awareness – The number one thing you can do to protect yourself from threats on campus is to be aware of what’s going on around you. Stay off your phone, remove the headphones, and pay attention. Don’t be one of the countless numbers of campus zombies, roaming the streets oblivious to the world around them. Those people are the ones that criminals are going to be targeting
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