4 Emergency Situations You and Your Roommates Can Prepare For

Emergency preparedness is something that I HATE to think about. I was the girl who avoided buying the first aid kit and ran out the door during the "what if" conversations...until last week.

Because of a medical emergency, last weekend I spent most of my Friday night in the E.R. I was shell-shocked, and completely unprepared.

Hopefully, you can walk into a crisis more prepared than I was. Below, find tips and tricks for how to handle an emergency in college.

Talk it Out

Have a meeting with your roommates, and go over emergency preparedness. It’s important to know where each individual keeps their insurance information. Additionally, go over what medications you are taking, and what allergies you have (if any). If you ever need to call 911, these are the first things paramedics will ask about.

While you’re discussing this information, write it down in a safe place, or call on your inner Leslie Knope and make a binder. You might think you’ll remember that your roommate has been taking Accutane for three months when you are calmly discussing this in your kitchen, but may be unable to remember such specific information in case of an emergency.

What to Do:

Every emergency situation is different, but in most cases you will need to call 911. If you happen to be with a friend or roommate during your emergency situation, one of you can call 911 while the other contacts the RA on duty. As difficult as this may be, try to remember to stay calm. 


The following are four common emergencies you might run into in college. 

Allergic Reactions

If your roommate is having an allergic reaction, the first thing to do is call 911 and administer an epinephrine injection. Even if you’re not sure your roommate is really having an allergic reaction, epinephrine will not hurt them; it’s better to be safe than sorry. Even an expired epi pen is better than no epi pen at all. For instructions on how to administer an epi pen, see here

Epileptic Seizures

If your roommate is having a seizure, do not try to hold them down or try to restrain them. Loosen any clothing around your roommate’s neck and position them on their side. In many cases, it is helpful to time the seizure—seizure’s shorter than two minutes may not constitute an emergency if the person has a history of epileptic seizures. If the person does not have a history of epileptic seizures, or you are unsure of whether they have a history of epileptic seizures, call 911.

Alcohol Poisoning

No specific amount of alcohol can take you from too tipsy to dangerously drunk, which can make it tricky to evaluate whether or not your friend has actually had too much to drink. If your friend is unconscious, pale or blue-tinted, hypothermic, or vomiting, they might have had waaay too much to drink. If your friend is unconscious, make sure they are on their side in case they vomit. If they are still conscious, give them a glass of water, and try to keep them warm. Better safe than sorry is the rule for alcohol poisoning. If you think your friend has alcohol poisoning, do not hesitate to call 911.


If your roommate is choking, the Red Cross recommends alternating between five back blows and five Heimlich thrusts until the obstruction is dislodged. If this method is not making progress, call 911 while you continue trying to assist your roommate.  If the person becomes unconscious, perform CPR.

Hopefully, the above tips and tricks help you in any emergency situation you may encounter. Stay safe, collegiettes!