COLUMN: College students’ checklist

Marianne Hale

I have a knack for leaving things behind: my debit card in an ATM, my car keys at Waffle House, a cell phone somewhere in the city of Louisville. So, when I heard that September was National Preparedness Month, I thought maybe it was a month-long celebration of getting prepared designed for people who, like me, should consult a check-list before leaving their homes.

But it was really designed to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities, according to the National Preparedness Month website. The campaign encourages Americans to have emergency supply kits that might include water, food, a first-aid kit and other items that will come in handy when a natural disaster or emergency situation occurs.

But what about unnatural disasters or those sticky situations that typical college-age students face on a day-to-day basis? Where’s the kit for that?

I took this question to the experts, who in this case were current and former college students who all happened to be in my cell phone’s address book. Together, we created the college student’s emergency kit, and for space purposes, I narrowed it down to the Five C’s that college students should always have.

■ Cash

You should always keep cash on you in case you need to pay for the cover charge at a bar, the cab ride home or a late-night blueberry cake doughnut run at GADS. If you’re planning on hanging out in dive bars (not that I know anyone who does that), you might want to carry some quarters, too. They come in handy if there’s a pool table or a jukebox.

■ Credentials

Some of my “experts” suggested that you should always have your ID – or someone else’s – handy when you go out. After all, how can you expect to get into the dive bar without some sort of proof that you’re 21?

■ Condoms

You’re about to get busy and realize that you haven’t come prepared. Uh-oh. Having condoms handy can prevent a bad hasty decision and sexual frustration.

■ Cell phone

I don’t think I need to sing the praises of cell phones to the college crowd, but you should always keep your phone on hand in case you need to call a cab, phone a friend or update your Facebook status. A friend also recommended knowing at least one cell phone number by heart in case something happens to your cell. I picked my friend Josh’s number to memorize because it’s made of up lots of sevens. If you don’t have anyone’s number, let me know. I’m sure he doesn’t have anything better to do than be the emergency contact (designated driver) for others in the campus community.

■ Common sense

Common sense encompasses a lot of different things. It might mean making sure you have a designated driver for the evening or just having a buddy to protect you from the things that go bump in the night. The idea is to plan ahead and behave in a safe, responsible manner, even when you’re getting crunk … or whatever.

Those are the Five C’s, my dear readers. Other good suggestions from my experts included aspirin, an umbrella, tampons, a toothbrush, ChapStick, pepper spray, Band-Aids and a spare change of clothes.

Feel free to adapt this emergency check-list to include your must-have items, or let me know what you can never leave home without by e-mailing me at [email protected]