Follow-up: University Preparedness

In August, we chatted with Nancy Ortiz and Jay Roorbach with the University at Buffalo’s Emergency Management Department about ways for college students to can be better prepared for emergencies. Inspired by that initial post, Nancy conducted research on UB’s campus throughout the fall semester and recently presented her findings at the NYS College and University Emergency Management Workshop. Her research confirmed that, in general, university students are not prepared for emergencies and that emergency managers need to continue to identify creative methods for conducting outreach.  As students return for the Spring semester, Nancy provided us with the following update.

Being prepared for emergencies isn’t a matter that people think about often. They typically focus more on their daily routines, their jobs, their families, and their social lives more than they do a potential emergency. Before working in the Emergency Management Department, I had the very same mentality. Influenced by my position, I began to build myself an emergency kit, create an emergency plan, and develop my situational awareness wherever I go. However, after creating a plan and a kit for myself, I began to wonder how others my age perceived emergency preparedness.

I recently conducted a university-wide survey to gather information about how college students feel about individual emergency preparedness. I started asking my peers questions about their own emergency plans, kits, and knowledge of the university’s emergency procedures. This type of discussion is crucial to encouraging students to think about preparedness, and allows students to express their opinions and ask questions they may have. The results, though unsurprising, proved the need for heightened attention to emergency preparedness.

Of the students surveyed, about two-thirds of students admitted to not having an emergency plan. Many students who did not have a plan claimed that they did not even think of creating their own plan. In addition, over three-fourths of the students surveyed said that they did not have an emergency kit. When asked why, the majority of students also stated that they did not even think of the importance of having a kit.

Though the results of the survey cannot speak for every university, they elude to the trend of unpreparedness in most individuals that has been inferred within the emergency management profession. In order to increase your chances for success in an emergency, it is imperative that you take action. Setting aside a few minutes to discuss a plan with your household or roommates can save lives when there isn’t time to discuss your options, and building a kit can provide you with valuable resources when resources are scarce. Preparedness begins with you!

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