This September marks National Preparedness Month, and University of Connecticut Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) has multiple resources for students to learn what they can do to stay safe and stay prepared for all types of unexpected events.
Senior Extension Educator Dr. Robert Ricard says that there is a three-pronged approach for students to prepare for an emergency situation, like a hurricane.
“The first step is checking the UConn Public Safety Emergency Preparedness website,” Ricard said. “They also have apps that would be useful. Of course, there is also the UConn Alert system, which is primarily used for Fire and Police Activity, but is important for being prepared for emergencies. Those are essential tools, and that is the first line of notification for students and faculty.”
Getting alerts is a critical part of being prepared. It is also important to have a plan for getting in touch with people during an emergency situation.
“The second step has to do with your home, family and primary friends. We always tell everybody to have a clear communications plan to contact loved ones before, during and after the storm,” Ricard said. “In developing that plan, students should be cognizant that cell towers could go down during a storm, so having a backup portable charger or another sort of charging system is a good idea. There are a lot of easy to read fact sheets about communication plans on the EDEN website.”
The third most important thing for UConn students to do in the case of a disaster is to have an emergency kit ready.
“Water is of course the most important. A radio is also useful,” Ricard said. “For UConn students specifically, it is important to gather important papers like passports, licenses, or, for students from outside the country, any immigration papers or other documentation and keep them in a waterproof bag. It is also important to make copies of these things in case they are to get destroyed.”
Dr. Ricard also recommends to keep heavy duty black garbage backs on hand, as they are a great way to keep things dry and pack them quickly. Students should also have some food and prescription medication, and they should be mindful of the fact that if power goes out, pharmacies won’t be open until the power is restored.
The university itself also has clear plans on what to do in the event of an emergency. There are transportation plans that include bussing students off campus for evacuations.
For off campus students, Dr. Ricard recommends students put gas in their cars a few days before the storm to beat the line at the gas station.
“Students should pay careful attention to reliable sources,” Ricard said. “There are links on the EDEN website to specific weather stations. Students should become familiar with sites they trust to check for storm updates.”
EllieAnn Lesko is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org