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Emergency Preparedness for University & College Students

Moving away from home to go to University or College is an exciting and unforgettable time in one’s life. However, with it comes growing independence and self-reliance. As a university student myself, the recent floods affecting BC made me realize the knowledge gap for many university students regarding emergency preparedness. Working with the lovely team at Total Prepare has brought me an abundance of information, and I wanted to share it with others who may have been like me, without a clue. I wrote this post and all the tips in it specifically with University & College students in mind. If a disaster or emergency happens to affect your campus, it’s important you know how to stay safe until help arrives.  

Student sitting on bed with laptop and notebooks

Photo by Windows on Unsplash. Text elements added by Total Prepare

Why do you need to prepare at university? 

  • University is only the beginning of your growing independence. Ensuring you’re emergency prepared is great practice and involves thinking deeply about what you already have on hand and what you may need. 
  • It’s your responsibility. Although many universities will have some supplies on hand, there is often not enough for the entire campus. Stocking up allows these supplies to go to those students that need them the most, first. Ensure you have the supplies you need to wait in comfort if there is a disaster or emergency. 
  • Avoid unnecessary panic and anxiety. Moving away from home can bring its own host of anxieties and fears for young students. Being away from your family, especially during a disaster or emergency, could be especially overwhelming. Calm any nerves by ensuring you have what you need to wait in comfort and know what to do in an emergency. 

Tips and tricks 

  1. Be aware of the risks that may affect the area you attend school
  2. Come up with a meeting place for roommates, notify family of this location. 
    • Decide on one that is close to you and one further away. Identify which hazards are presented with each location and ensure you will be able to access at least one of these meeting places with ALL types of disasters in your area
  3. Plan for at least 2 emergency contacts. Ensure one of these contacts is someone out of town as they are less likely to be affected by the emergency in your area
  4. Think about what would happen if you were required to “shelter in place.” If you live on campus, have a conversation with your dorm advisor or community leader to find out what the plan for your residence is. If you live off campus, have a conversation with your roommates about getting together an emergency kit 
  5. Discuss & practice how to turn off the electricity, water, heating, cooling systems, and gas in your home. Check out this 4-in-1 tool!  
  6. Assemble a kit – ideally 2
    • That way you have one to put in your backpack and keep with you in your vehicle/at school, and one to keep at home
  7. Store your kit off the ground and away from windows to prevent water or other damage
  8. Ensure there are no large or heavy objects blocking your kit and that you can grab it on your way out 
    • Good places to store your kit are a front hall closet, the laundry room, or the garage. Make sure you store your kit in a room temperature area 
  9. Check your kit and make sure nothing has expired or been damaged every 6 months 
    • A great way to remember is to check at end of every semester 
    • If you have a camping stove, test it out and make sure you have enough fuel for at least 3 days 
    • Check all batteries and replace them as needed 
  10. Familiarize yourself with local authorities and where to find the most up-to-date crisis management information 
    • If you/re in the CRD for instance, find it here
  11. Look into purchasing tenants’ insurance 
    • As a university student, I can testify it has been a worthwhile investment. $300/year to guarantee you won’t lose your laptop and all your hard work in the unfortunate event of a flood? Worth it  
  12. Consider backing up your computer files to a hard drive 
    • For the same reason as above, avoid the potential nightmare 
  13. Have your professors’ phone numbers or emails on hand 
    • Those of us in Victoria know that it’s all too common for a rainstorm to take out the power in a neighbourhood. Ensuring you have your professor’s contact information guarantees you can reach out if you’re unable to attend class or submit an assignment 
  14. Understand your school’s policies and procedures regarding emergencies. Sign up for your school’s campus alert system if there is one 
  15. Ensure your roommates/dorm neighbours have your emergency contact’s information and vice versa 
  16. Encourage your family to sign up for campus alerts and follow your school’s social media websites to get the most up to date information 
    • Emergencies are stressful for parents, especially when they’re away from their kids. Signing up for alerts will guarantee they get up to date information if you aren’t able to reach them 
  17. Have your C.L./R.A.’s contact information or your landlord’s contact information saved in your phone 
  18. Practice! Get your household or residence together and hold an emergency drill to see what you have and what you might have missed


What to include in your kit: 

  • Food & water for 3 days (at least 1,200 calories per day with a mix of fruit & veggies, protein, and carbohydrates) 
  • Mini First Aid Kit 
  • First Aid Manual 
  • Prescription medication and copies of prescriptions 
  • Portable charger 
  • Change of clothes – try to pack layers that can easily be built-up/removed 
  • Flashlight & spare batteries 
  • Crank or battery-operated radio 
  • Extra contacts or glasses 
  • Cash  
  • Waterproof matches 
  • Candles 
  • Some form of ID (always good to have government issued and your student ID) 
  • Durable shoes by your bed – in case of broken glass 
  • Heavy-duty gloves – in case of broken glass 
  • N95 face mask 
  • Area map with all emergency services and your meeting place marked 
  • Hand sanitizer  
  • Toilet paper 
  • Tool for turning off gas
  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen, Benadryl, and any other over-the-counter medication you use on a regular basis 


Sharing is caring! If you learned something new, be sure to share this post with your friends, roommates and other fellow students to get them emergency prepared too. 

Get in touch with us by using the chat function or sending us an email if you have any questions about emergency preparedness! 

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