In the next couple of weeks, my wife and I will be taking my stepdaughter off to college.
She is ready to go. We are ready for her to go. Not because we're tired of each other (we're not), but we're glad she is to the point in her life where she feels independent and has a need to take on life without seeing us on a daily basis.
Mom has been helping get her dorm room ready. Furniture, lots of monogrammed things, more clothes, carpeting, plastic bins of all sizes for all sorts of things I never realized college kids needed - we have an entire playroom filled with this stuff. This begs the question how this will all be shoehorned into a dorm room with a roommate and her own stuff. My job is to to just drive the truck with the stuff in it and not to question the college swag decisions.
Except that, being a prepper, my job does extend beyond just being the truck driver. I am tasked with prepping an 18 year old girl who isn't into prepping with the knowledge and resources she might need living in a college town with a significant weather risk located near the New Madrid Fault in a world that seems less stable by the day. If she leaves the house unprepared, that's on me.
And so I've begun preparing her for a wide spectrum of perils.
Kids these days do not know how to use a map. They rely on their phones as their navigational tools.
To make things easier, I have marked various routes with a highlighter, including routes that do not require use of any interstates. I've also marked all of the bridges crossing the Mississippi River within 200 miles of her. In the event of an earthquake, she may need a different route home - over a bridge not compromised by earth movement. She may also want to go to her grandparents' or roommate's home instead. Those routes are mapped out as well.
On the cover of the atlas, I have laminated a one page, front and back, document with routes, tips and instructions on how to get home in an emergency.
I'm still building this for her. I'd say I'm 90 percent done with it. I took her old backpack from high school (because everyone knows you must have a brand new backpack for college, even if your high school backpack is in excellent condition) and made it her emergency kit. Some of the items I have in it include:
Most of this will be kept in her bag, while other items (like the tarp) will be stored in a compartment in her car. The bag will likely remain in her car, ready to go in the event of a quick evacuation.
Texas A&M does a good job helping college students prepare. Check out their suggestions.
I expect her dorm room will be very safe, but we are making precautions there as well. She will have, among other things, a:
Emergency Management on Campus
Her school is blessed with a great emergency manager. I reached out to the campus police months ago to learn more about the emergency planning for the university. I feel lucky that my kid chose to go to this particular school where preparedness is taken seriously.
If you're concerned about preparedness on your kid's college campus, make the effort to reach out to the school and support their preparedness efforts if you can. Those folks don't receive much attention from alumni and parents; your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
I'll be briefing my kid on all of this the week before we leave. I expect a lot of eye rolling and expressions of utter disbelief that we are even discussing the subject. It's my hope she'll never have to use any of the items I send with her. But as I like to say, "the odds are low, but the stakes are high." If she is confronted with an emergency, I want her to be in a position to take care of herself and to hopefully help others do the same.
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