Seventy-two Hour Bag for College Students

Young men and women all across America are headed to college for the first time while others are headed back for another year.  Nervous parents of freshmen are trying to get their sons or daughters prepared for being away from home for the first time. No one wants their child to be home sick and miserable at college; therefore, all over the country mothers are decorating dorm rooms so their child feels comfortable in their new surroundings.   Many families have spent huge sums of money buying everything that they think their child needs to be happy and successful at college.  All of the worrying and preparing is understandable.  All parents should want their child to be happy and successful at college.


Not only do parents want their child to be happy and successful at college; they also want them to be safe.  Unfortunately, most parents are relying on the college for the safety of their child.  Colleges should be safe places for students, but relying solely on any institution for one’s safety can lead to tragedy.

Parents should provide their college student with a seventy-two hour survival bag before heading off to college.  Some people may scoff or call a person paranoid but parents are responsible for the safety of their child.  Natural disasters and other emergencies can happen at any time so it is wise to be prepared for them.  A college can lose electricity for an extended period of time due to inclement weather.  A pandemic or terrorist attack can cause students to be trapped inside of their room for an extended period of time.  It is more likely to be car trouble or sickness that causes a student to need emergency supplies.


Parents can find a list of supplies recommended by the federal for a disaster kit at  The list at is a good starting point for parents preparing a disaster kit for their child.

The government recommends having at least a three-day supply of water for each person in a household.   The government also recommends having a gallon of water a day for drinking and sanitation purposes.  For my own children, I have them use a backpack to store their emergency supplies.  It is impractical to try storing three gallons of water inside a backpack so I recommend storing three gallons of water in their dorm room.  I also recommend having several liters of water inside a backpack in case students have to abandon their car or dorm room.

After acquiring enough water for an emergency, parents should make sure their child has 72 hours worth of non-perishable foods.  Camping foods can be stored inside a survival backpack. Students should leave their backpack in their room but take it with them when they are traveling.  It is not uncommon for school cafeterias to be closed due to inclement weather so it wise to always have a three-day supply of food on hand in case of an emergency.

Having medical supplies inside an emergency kit is also very important.  Having a supply of bandages, prescription and non-prescription medicines can literally save someone’s life.  Parents should take into consideration any medical needs their child has when making a medicine kit.  I have my sons put their medicine kit inside their backpack.  I tell them to take their backpack with them when they are traveling.

There are a ton of items that can go into a survival bag.  Parents and children cal look at numerous sites for recommendations and then decide what best suits their needs.  Hopefully, college students will never need their emergency bag but parents and students alike can sleep better at night knowing they are prepared for emergencies.


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