The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have it right. Be Prepared. In so many situations, it’s important to have a plan that you hope you’ll never need. Arming your student with a plan for how to proceed in an emergency means less anxiety for both your student and you. Hopefully, it’s a plan your student will never need, but he knows he’s prepared — just in case. Take time to talk with your student about his plan, work on it together, and make sure that you both know the details — just in case.
There are two general types of situations in which your student might need to leave campus quickly. The first situation entails an instance when the campus might need to be evacuated by all students. This might be a situation such as a weather emergency, an environmental threat, or other factor which affects all personnel at the college.
In the event of a general evacuation, the most important thing is for your student to carefully follow the instructions given by the institution. Almost all schools now have carefully considered plans for evacuating their campus in an emergency. Your student should look at the website or other material given to him by the college to make sure he knows what he is expected to do and how he will receive information.
The second situation in which a student might need to leave campus quickly might be a personal emergency or illness. This might be the case during an outbreak of flu or other pandemic illness. In this case, it will be the student’s personal responsibility to have a plan for leaving school and arriving someplace safe. Depending on where he lives, this may or may not be his home.
In the case of a personal emergency, the college is not responsible for your student’s transportation or for communicating with family, although the college may do so depending on the situation.
What can your student do to be prepared?
There are several things that you and your student can do to be prepared for a situation in which he may need to leave campus quickly. Be sure to discuss these with your student.
- Be familiar with the institutional policies and plan in case the campus needs to be evacuated.
- Create an individual departure plan in writing and make sure both the student and family members have copies.
- Identify where your student will go in an emergency. If you live a distance from the college, try to find family members or friends who live in the area and who would be willing to be designated as an emergency safe haven. Make sure they agree, and make sure your student has their phone number and address, as well as directions to their home.
- Make sure your student has all important phone numbers, including family, emergency contacts, doctor, insurance, etc. both in his phone and on paper.
- If your student does not have a car, he should identify someone who will be able to drive him where he needs to go or come to campus to pick him up. Even if your student does have a car, he should identify these people in the event that he is too ill to safely drive himself. Make sure these people have agreed to be available to help in the case of an emergency.
- Identify those people on campus who should be notified if your student needs to leave campus for a personal emergency or illness.
Although it may seem intimidating to create a personal emergency plan, essentially your student should be able to answer the following questions:
- Where will you go?
- How will you get there?
- What do you need to take?
- Whom should you notify?
Having a discussion and having a plan in place will save both your student and you anxiety. You hope your student will never need to put this plan into place, but you will know that he is prepared — just in case.