Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern states early this week and has already severely impacted many densely populated areas, leaving cities flooded and millions without power. Governors in both New York and New Jersey declared these areas “states of emergency.” Even if you are a West Coaster who won’t be affected by Sandy, this should get you thinking about how to prepare for all types of natural disasters. Check out these tips to help keep you safe in the event that a natural disaster strikes in your area — or if atrocities occur with the end of the Mayan calendar (just kidding — there is no scientific evidence that this is going to occur; if you are still uncertain, just visit NASA‘s website).
In preparation of Sandy’s arrival, Eastern states shut down public transportation systems, blocked off major bridges, cancelled schools and closed public offices — even the casinos in Atlantic City were forced to shut their doors. According to a CBSNews article from October 28, 2012, “The time to prepare for Hurricane Sandy is ‘about over,’ FEMA warns.”
If you are in the path of this dangerous storm, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie advises, “‘Don’t be stupid. Get out.'” Others, however, disagree, believing that this storm is no better or worse than others that have hit the area. One New Jersey resident explains that, “Nature’s going to do what it’s going to do. It’s great that there’s so much information out there about what you can do to protect yourself and your home, but it all boils down basically to use your common sense.’
Good advice for college students, too. In the case of a natural disaster (be it a hurricane, flood, tornado or doomsday), simply use your common sense.
In the event of a disaster
FEMA’s Natural Disasters page offers information about how to deal with everything from a drought to a wildfire. Simply click on the disaster and find out what to do before, during and after the event.
For instance, in the event of a hurricane (like Sandy), FEMA suggests:
- Becoming familiar with your surroundings, reinforcing doors and windows, determining how and when to evacuate, and knowing where the dams and levees are in your community before the storm hits
- Staying informed by tuning in to news stations, ensuring a large water supply, staying indoors, and evacuating if instructed to do so during the storm
- Staying alert for possible aftereffects of the storm, walking carefully around areas with extensive damage, using battery powered flashlights instead of candles, and inspecting your home for damage after the storm is over (even if your home is a dormitory)
Being prepared at school
Of course, where you attend college may dictate the types of emergencies you need to prepare for. If you go to school in California, you may want to brush up on your knowledge of earthquakes. Attend a school in Kansas? You may want to know what to do when the tornado sirens go off. Is your university near the North Carolina coast? Then you should have an evacuation route in case of a hurricane.
More than likely, your college or university already has a plan in place, so visit your school’s website and check out the links to the disaster plan. It is also a great idea to check with your Resident Advisor if you live in the dorms. He or she will be able to tell what the protocol is if and when a disaster occurs.
It is always important to have a few items on hand:
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Bottled water
- Nonperishable food
- Cell phone and car charger (in case electricity goes out)
To find out about other items useful during a natural disaster (like helmets and medical books), check out Heather Levin’s post on Money Crashers “How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster – Emergency Preparedness Plan.”
If you are a college student who has already been affected by a natural disaster, you may qualify for assistance through your financial aid. To read more, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP).