College Students: 8 Things to Pack for Health and Safety
Shower shoes, an extra eyeglass prescription — campus life is better with these near-necessities
Sheets and comforter? Check. Hot pot? Check. MP3 player? Check.
Think you’re all set for campus life? Before you load the last box into the car, consider these 10 items to help keep you healthy and safe at college.
1. Shower shoes. College dorm showers are notoriously grimy, especially if the bathrooms are coed. Beat back a case of foot fungus by packing a pair of shower shoes or flip-flops, says Cora Breuner, MD, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics section on adolescent health and a mom who’s launching her third child to college this fall. A plastic bucket or shower caddy is a good idea, too.
2. Sleep mask and earplugs. Parties on the quad, a less-than-considerate roommate and hallway noise can mean your teen won’t get the zzz’s she needs. A simple mask and pack of earplugs can be a lifesaver. If you’re a light sleeper, also consider a white noise machine.
3. Copies of health documents. Parents: Help your teen put together a file (paper or electronic) of important health records. “Create a PDF of your child’s updated record of vaccinations and include a copy of your insurance card,” suggests Breuner. A copy of your teen’s driver’s license and passport are also worth including.
4. First aid kit. Bring the essentials: Bandages, antibiotic ointment, bug spray, sunscreen, a digital thermometer and a few individual packets of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Breuner advises parents not to send kids off with an entire bottle of either of these medications, though. “It can be risky if your kid inadvertently takes too many,” she explains.
5. A lightweight digital scale. Late-night study sessions fueled by pizza and wings, as well as meal plans that offer unlimited food and desserts, can contribute to the dreaded freshman 15. Weighing yourself once a week can help you keep tabs.
6. Disinfecting wipes. These just may stave off a nasty cold or a case of the flu. Keep some in your dorm room, and bring small bottles of hand sanitizer for your backpack.
7. A car service subscription. With your parents’ help (or credit card, with their approval), set up an account with Uber or a local car service in case of emergency, especially if it’s hard to get a taxi or bus where you go to school.
8. Emergency credit card. A stash of cash if fine, but a credit card is safer and will come in handy when your hard drives crashes in the middle of finals. Parents: Set up a low-limit card in your child’s name, linked to your account, or send along a prepaid card.