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Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Back to School for College Students


During the elementary, middle, and high school years, much of the responsibility for students’ health and safety belongs to teachers, administrators, and school nurses. Staff members know CPR, basic first aid, and how to use an AED. Staff members know where to find the AED, how to evacuate students from the building, and where to shelter in place. Staff members lead, students follow.

But once students head off to college, a dramatic shift occurs. Though most colleges and universities provide students with extensive health and safety resources, students must begin to take responsibility for their well-being. Without the same level of supervision as in years past, students must begin to lead themselves.

So if you’re heading off to school this fall, check out these tips to help you become and stay healthy, wealthy, and wise during your years as a college student! (Ok, I admit these tips may not make you wealthy…)

Stock your dorm room with a basic first aid kit, basic emergency preparedness kit, and an extra dose of any needed medications. (Think epi-pens, inhalers, etc.)

Learn your surroundings, as in how to safely exit the building in the event of a fire and where to go inside the building should severe weather strike, remembering that stairs – and not elevators – should be used during emergencies. Additionally, figure out where the AED(s) and fire extinguisher(s) for your floor/building are kept.

Learn what to do in an emergency by taking a CPR/First Aid/AED class before heading to school or as soon as possible after arriving on campus. Participate in every fire and severe weather drill as though it’s the real thing. Share your schedule with your roommate, close friends, and/or family members so they could track you down if necessary, and determine how you would contact these people if an emergency separated you from your phone and computer.

Follow your school’s rules and leave prohibited appliances at home, cook safely, and don’t smoke or burn candles or incense in your dorm room.

The American Red Cross is – as always – dedicated to preparing students for a safe and healthy school year. Check out the resources listed below, and visit your college or university’s website for additional campus-specific health and safety information.

Learn more about or sign up for American Red Cross health and safety classes here.

Find American Red Cross first aid and emergency preparedness kits here.

Read more about the American Red Cross Safe and Well website (a central, online location where people affected by disaster can register their status and their loved ones can access that information) here.