Dorm Room Preppers: The Next Generation of Survivalism

It’s an exciting time, preparing for your child to leave the nest.  Your young adult is enthusiastically anticipating the independence that is so near, but you, as a parent, are most likely running scenarios in your head of all of the mishaps that could befall your son or daughter.

As a prepper, you want your child to also be prepared for any crisis that might occur when they are out on their own. When my lovely eldest daughter graduated from high school, we put together a dorm-room preparedness kit for her college apartment. Following, you can see the list of supplies that we have assembled.  Different climates will, of course, require different types of preparedness items.

Food and water

If there is a long-term power outage, you want to be sure that your student stays fed and hydrated until you can get them home.  Depending on the situation, they may have to shelter in place for a time.  Base the length of your supply on the distance from home.

  • 2 cases of water bottles
  • 2-3 five gallon jugs of water
  • 1 portable water filter
  • A 2-4 week supply of long-term storage food that doesn’t require power for preparation (Check the no-cook food printable)

Personal defense items

Be sure to check the rules of the dormitory and weigh the pros and cons of your solutions for this matter.  This will depend upon your student and his or her level of competence and responsibility, and only you can make the correct assessment of the situation.  The following recommendations will not be appropriate in all situations:

  • Mace
  • Pepper spray/dog spray/bear spray/wasp spray
  • Knives
  • A self-defense course (these are often offered on-campus)

First aid supplies

Your child should have a well-stocked first aid kit, including supplies for an illness like the flu.

  • Bandages
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Alcohol pads
  • Steri-strips
  • Betadine
  • Diarrhea remedies
  • Tums or Pepto Bismol
  • Anti-nausea medication or ginger tablets
  • Cold medicine (daytime and nighttime)
  • Pain relief (Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and/or acetaminophen)
  • Hot water bottle
  • Reusable cold packs
  • Tensor bandages
  • Herbal teas like ginger, peppermint, and chamomile


During a power outage, particularly in a multi-story building, sanitation could become an issue. (Remember the high-rises in NYC during Hurricane Sandy?)  The following supplies can help to keep your student healthy:

  • Extreme heavy duty garbage bags, a bucket, and some kitty litter for a makeshift toilet
  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Additional stored water for cleaning
  • Lysol or another antiseptic spray
  • Extra towels to stuff under the door to keep out unpleasant smells
  • Baby wipes for personal hygiene
  • Paper plates, cups, and cutlery
  • Paper towels

Miscellaneous supplies

Be sure that your student has the following supplies on hand to deal with an emergency such as a power outage or other crisis:

  • Candles
  • Matches/Lighter
  • Bug-out bag
  • Compass
  • Maps with multiple routes home, including walking and driving routes
  • Cold-rated sleeping bag


It is vital to stress the importance of OPSEC (Operational Security), especially in a shared living environment.  Your young adult should be very careful about letting others know that he or she possesses self-defense items or preparedness supplies.  In a small space, it can be difficult to keep things hidden, but a great deal of food and water can be shoved under a bed.  Self-defense items can be stashed in a backpack.  Other supplies can be stored in the closet in luggage.

Prepper mentality

Of course, we all know that the most important prep is your mind. If your son or daughter understands the preparedness mindset, they will be head and shoulders above the rest in a crisis situation. Because my daughter has been raised in a household that values preparedness, she is well-aware of the things that can happen.  She understands the mob mentality that can arise during a disaster and she is well-versed in being adaptable, of thinking things through, and making a plan.  As well, she has learned many things that aren’t common for your average teenage girl today, like starting fires, cooking from scratch, and outdoor skills.

Some great courses for a teenager are:

  • First aid
  • CPR
  • Wilderness survival
  • Orienteering
  • Self defense
  • Water safety

As a family, you should have a plan for different types of emergencies.  Will your young adult try to make their way home to you in the event of a crisis or should they shelter in place and wait for you to get to them?  Are there special concerns in their particular area that should be planned for, like a nuclear power facility, an earthquake or tornado prone locale, or extreme climate conditions?  By having a plan in place before disaster strikes, everyone will be on the same page and the response to the crisis will be automatic, saving valuable time and energy, as well as providing some peace of mind.

Time to fly

As parents, it is our job to prepare our children for life outside the nest.  We have to let go so they can fly.  By providing them with a solid base of knowledge, supplies, and advice we can rest assured that they will thrive as the begin their lives as independent adults.

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