Emily Gaines - BBB

It’s easy for students to prioritize GPA and commitments to organizations above other aspects of their lives, and things like preparing for natural disasters ahead of time don’t seem imperative. If you live in a dorm or student apartment, you may have the mindset that safety precautions are someone else’s responsibility. The truth is, there are always extra things you can do to keep yourself safe, and the more you prepare ahead of time, the less stress you’ll have down the line. September, National Preparedness Month, provides that reminder that it’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

These tips from BBB serving the Heart of Texas can help you stay prepared:

  • Know and practice your plan. You may need to evacuate and relocate in the event of a fire, flood or tornado. If you live in a dorm, you can ask your RA to tell you the evacuation plan in case of emergency, and if there are designated shelter spots on campus. There might be maps of this plan on your floor or in your individual room. Student apartments might not have a specific plan in place. Sit down with your roommates and decide on the best routes out of the building and a communication plan. Practice at least twice a year to make sure everyone is refreshed.

  • Learn basic home skills. It may sound obvious, but if you’re moving into your first apartment or house, that excitement can steal the spotlight from less glamorous aspects of living on your own. Knowing how to turn off the electricity or natural gas, as well as when these need to be shut off, can be lifesaving. It’s also recommended you check your fire alarm once a month. (A bonus to increased safety, a regularly checked fire alarm is less likely to do that beeping. You know the beeping.) You should also learn the right ways to put out cooking, heating and electrical fires. 

  • Build your savings. Damages from fires or flooding can be expensive. Luckily, most places you’ll live in college will require you to have renter’s insurance before moving in, which will help cover some losses. But a savings account can provide an extra cushion and sense of comfort. College is a great time to start building your savings, if you haven’t already. If you have a part-time job, put a small part of each paycheck into your savings account. Do the same any time a relative gives you cash for a holiday or your birthday. Keep it separate from your checking account and only withdraw money when you have unexpected expenses. 

All of these are steps you can take ahead of time to prepare yourself for any potential situation. For more tips, you can visit us at bbb.org, and to learn more about National Preparedness Month, go to ready.gov/September.

BBB’s vision is an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other, and our mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. Your BBB serves 105 counties in Texas, with offices in Austin, Bryan, Corpus Christi, Fort Worth, Midland, San Antonio and Waco. To learn more, visit us at bbb.org/central-texas or email Emily Gaines at egaines@austin.bbb.org.

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