What to do if you're away at college and a hurricane looms and you've never experienced one before

By Carolyn Sistrand, AccuWeather staff writer

When a hurricane approaches, colleges and universities in the storm’s track must take action to ensure the safety of all students, staff and faculty.

Many students and parents find themselves in a particularly difficult situation. Students are, usually, living on campus and away from home for the first time.

While it may not be the first hurricane for some students, for most it’s the first hurricane they have to brace for on their own.

College and university campuses have emergency weather protocols, detailing what employees are required to report to work, what resources are offered for students and which campus facilities remain open.

Cell phone text alerts and social media circulation by colleges remain vital tools in communicating messages to students during a weather emergency. These tools allow announcements and updates to get out fast and inform the greatest number of people.

Location from the eye of the storm typically determines if a school should be evacuated. If the school does not evacuate, it still does not mean students should not prepare for power outages and days inside their dorms.

College students hurricane prep infographic

Although time stuck inside the dorms is not ideal, neither is evacuating from school.

If there is enough time, buses, flights and driving remain efficient ways of evacuating from an area. As the storm gets closer, however, evacuation becomes more difficult.

For students far from home, many colleges and universities will offer evacuation assistance, whether that is arranging for or providing transportation from the area. It is extremely important to remain aware of continual changes in weather patterns and to be checking updates so that anyone in need of evacuation assistance can receive it.

With an impending hurricane, students should take these necessary steps to prepare themselves ahead of any evacuation orders:

Preparing to evacuate ahead of a hurricane

Listen to the suggestions and instructions of the school, local and state officials and the concerns of family to create a sound, reasonable evacuation plan.

For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.

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