Seph’s Survival Guide to College Living – Emergency Preparedness

On Campus
Fire Alarm

For those of you who have decided to live in the residence halls, there’s one big, dreaded event that you must partake in. I’d advise you to sit if standing, for this may shock you.

Fire drills. I know, scary, right? But, unfortunately, it’s true. At times, usually when the weather isn’t grey and snowy (like that ever happens, amirite?), the alarm goes off, a loud, ringing bell punctuated with a siren that sounds like a billion angry crickets all squawking at once. A bright light starts flashing on and off, and you hear the sound of everyone in the building moving and talking as they exit the building.

It can be quite startling and, depending on the time of day, even more annoying than that one math class. But worry not, loyal viewer, because I have a few tips and tricks to make this hassle slightly less of a pain.

  • Dress warm. I know, it’s much more comfortable to snuggle up in your jammies and comforter at night, eating popcorn and watching Netflix, than to wear your day clothes at all times. I’ve seen a few nighttime alarms where someone is shivering under a blanket wearing nothing but a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. When that alarm goes off, especially if it’s raining or snowing, be sure to throw on some pants and a jacket. And for god’s sake, at least put your shoes on.
  • Dress. It happens to the best of us. You’re in the middle of shampooing your hair when you hear the alarm go off
    over the rush of water. Don’t freak out. You have a little time, so rinse off, towel dry, throw on some clothes, and get out of the building. Trust me, if you go slow and steady as opposed to running around in a panic, you’ll get out the building in due time.
  • Your car is your friend. Trust me, nothing’s worse than standing in the cold rain while the fire trucks zoom around for half an hour. If you have a car in the parking lot, treat it like a haven. There, you can relax in shelter, turn on the heater, listen to some music and turn an annoyance into a break from homework. Invite a few friends and make sure to pack some chips in the glovebox, turn the fiasco into a mini party to de-stress from the day of studying. Make the best of a bad situation!
  • Phones and ‘phones. Even if you don’t have a vehicle or a friend who has a vehicle (or friends in general. You know who you are), you can still find a way to pass the time. Bring along a phone and a set of earphones, listen to Spotify or watch YouTube. I recommend Stuck in the Drive Thru by Weird Al Yankovic, since the song is hilarious and is also about 15 minutes long. Start it when you get outside, and by the time it ends, you’ll be back up in your room.
  • Is it normal for an oven tosmoke? True story, I once set off the alarm by making tea. When I turned on the stove, some grease started to smoke and sent the entire building into a frenzy. These things happen, so don’t let it get you down. Security guards may come to your room, but they won’t lambast you about it, and once the firefighters are done checking things out, you’ll be allowed to come back in.
  • Only YOU can prevent forest fires. The easiest way to deal with fire alarms is to limit the amount you’ll have to suffer through. Don’t smoke in the buildings, even if it’s cold outside. There are designated spots for smokers in the parking lots. Keep your stove clean so it doesn’t catch fire. Watch your electronics and make sure none of the wires are exposed in your cables. But don’t worry, you won’t spontaneously combust from all the stress of preparing for finals.