Emergencies: Are You Prepared? 

Whilst it’s often rare that as a student you’ll  will be responsible  for the fallout of emergency situations,  there be times when things happen that you will be ultimately thrown into taking action without warning. Are you prepared for the big situations that might happen to you on campus or in your accommodation?

It also pays to get to know the environment, social culture and important points of contact when you go travelling or on holiday, especially if you’re not used to the culture or climate of a place.

Here’s some thoughts to consider should things go south wherever you are.

When Someone Gets Hurt

This one is inevitable, be it yourself, somebody you know or someone you happen to pass by at the time, so this is the one to be most prepared for if you want to be a good Samaritan.

The most basic knowledge you should have is your local emergency or high importance numbers and which one to call depending on the situation. Some of the most popular ones are below:

  • USA and parts of South America – 911 for everything. South American countries vary, but can be checked here.
  • UK – 999 or 112 for emergency support, 111 for less urgent health or equiries when you’re not sure. 101 follows the same non urgent procedure for police reports and enquiries and depending on the landline or nearest mobile tower you’re calling from will connect you to your local station or constabulary. 911 also redirects to 999 when called from a mobile.
  • Europe – 112 for general emergencies. Specific services vary by member state which can be checked here.
  • Oceania – 999 or 112 for most places (it’s worth checking for certain countries). Australia is 000 on landlines and mobiles for emergency support with 112 optionally for mobiles too. For non urgent police enquiries there, you can report to 131 444.
  • Asia – The numbers vary greatly depending on the country you’re visiting and the service you require. It’s reccomended for travellers to check here before you travel.

Another good preparation for this is to have some First Aid training. It sounds pretty basic, but you never know when this might come in handy. All it takes is an illness, an accident or a firm fist to put somebody out cold and if you’re well trained to get them in the recovery position and at worst breathing again then you might just save their life and help get them back on the path to recovery. If you’re interested in taking your training further, resucitation programs are available for working staff that may have a  defibrillator on site or the potential to get one.

If you feel someone has been hurt due to a crime or through something out of the ordinary that should be investigated, it’s worth getting in touch with the police using one of the numbers above.

When There’s a Threat to Your Safety


Sadly, if it’s not people, animals or bacteria trying to get to you, it’s probably the elements. Those living on flood plains, coastlines and places known for extreme weather will no doubt have been breifed in educational institutions and places of work and will hopefully have a plan they will have discussed in their family home. The question is have you prepared for it in halls or in your student house or apartment building?

When you get towards Tornado,  Monsoon/Hurricane/Typhoon season it’s worth checking your local weather site to check what to do should the worst strike and what you can do to prepare (eg: designate a safe space,  get a weather radio,  sort out documents etc.)

In most places where dodgy weather is known to strike you’ll also be likely to find one these. Find out what sound(s)  it makes,  when it’s tested (so you don’t panic over nothing) and what each sound means.


Other Sirens

In other areas, similar sirens are used to warn for other emergencies such as at Nuclear Power Stations, Demolition sites, Mental Health Hospitals or areas under conflict.

Sometimes its something as simple as a fire or gas alarm.

Again, same protocol as above, it’s worth checking when these are tested and what local action plans are available so you can make a plan of your own.

UK – Broadmoor Hospital Escape Sirens (NOTE: TURN YOUR VOLUME DOWN)

France – Civil Defence Sirens

US – Nuclear Sirens


Human Threats

Sometimes there aren’t noise makers available to warn us of threats. Sometimes it’s as subtle as somebody appearing where they shouldn’t be or suspiciously reaching down to their belt or into their coat for something that doesn’t resemble a pen or wallet.

On these cases you may have to enact some form of lockdown.  These are popular in schools and some higher education institutions in the past few years following mass shootings and threats on campus. Whilst this shouldn’t be necessary at home,  it’s worth seeing if your campus has a policy so you know what to do if a situation occurs when you’re on site.  The examples below may appear a little cheesy, but they get the correct message across:


Whatever your situation, the more you know, the safer you’ll be I know a lot of it is boring stuff,  but after being in a couple of situations myself where I genuinely wish I knew what I was doing,  it really is valuable stuff,  if not now then certainly in later life!