Smiling in the face of emergency: how to be prepared


Elisabeth Neely

Students keep their drawers organized to make it easier to look for something in a crunch of time.

By Yoav Margalit, Staff Writer

You’ve got a schedule. There’s a routine. There are things you have to get done so you can live your life, but at some point, a problem will come up. It’s when that problem arrives that being prepared pays off, so instead of being stuck with irritation, you feel vindicated. Here are a few categories where preparedness makes the difference.


Having only one of everything you use daily means being out of luck when something gets lost or broken. The solution? Pack a spare. Doubling up on toothbrushes, razor blades, soap and other necessities can help. It might seem obvious, but the only thing more exasperating than systematic foresight is annoyed hindsight.

It isn’t really a question of whether you can replace this stuff (57 North at Ikenberry Commons or Penn Station at PAR has replacements for a higher price), but it is a question of convenience. You can find out that you’re missing something at the most inconvenient time possible, which makes getting a replacement frustrating.


On a technological campus like this one, there is no way to avoid all the things we need computers for. Being able to deal with digital speed bumps should be high up the list of priorities.

Backing up everything now leads to avoiding a lot of heartache later on. This can look a couple different ways, but as far as supplies are concerned, it usually involves a backup hard disk. It only takes a few minutes on a bi-weekly basis to back up your content and it can save the day when you’re the one facing the soul-crushing glow of a blue screen.

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While a bit outside the topic of prepping for an emergency, other ways to back up include emailing files to yourself, taking pictures of written notes or work and keeping printed copies.

Additionally, having a second set of chargers for all your devices can make all the difference, considering the smartest phone in the world is about as dumb as a brick without power. The same can be said for a spare set of headphones, computer mouse and whatever cables you might end up needing.


There is a wide spectrum of what is actually warranted where medicine is concerned. Depending on your situation at the University, some options might be more or less practical. However, a good rule of thumb for figuring out what is reasonable to keep on hand is the following question: If I’m feeling sick enough that I can’t do what I need to do, what reasonable measures can I take to fix that?

This question has different answers for different people. Some people might answer it by having instant coffee and a kettle close at hand and powering through their sleep-deprived day in a caffeinated blitz. Other people just need to make sure they have a bottle of water or two near where they sleep.

For situations where you need to stay vertical long enough to make it to a doctor’s office, sit through a midterm or otherwise get through a non-negotiable part of your day, it can help to have a bottle of acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol) on hand. It’s important to follow the directions on the bottle, but acetaminophen can let you get up to face the world through headaches, fevers and general soreness. Just be sure to keep it to extraordinary circumstances.

Other medical supplies that have nothing to do with being sick include bandages of all sizes (ranging from covering paper cuts to larger scrapes), disinfectant spray and an elastic bandage or two. If the amenities in your housing include a freezer, then ice packs can be helpful too, especially for when your wake-up call includes banging your elbow on the wall at the start of your day.

Finding an unpleasant surprise where you were expecting business as usual is not fun. Not having the means to conveniently deal with this unpleasant surprise is worse.

If you want to avoid this, it’s helpful to prepare beforehand. When thinking about what kinds of things to supply yourself with at home, only a step behind ‘basic necessity’ on the list of priorities should be ‘how to keep basic necessities in case of emergency.’

It doesn’t take much work to set up well. If you don’t need it, fine. If you do? That’s the part where those who prepare smile and those who don’t groan.

Yoav is a junior in LAS.

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