Veronica With Four Eyes

What To Pack When Evacuating A Dorm

When I found out that I was moving into emergency/transitional housing, I had twenty minutes or less to figure out what to pack when evacuating a dorm. There’s many reasons why someone may have to evacuate their dorm, such as flooding, smoke, gas leak, power outage, infectious disease outbreak, investigations, or similar. I won’t go into detail about why I had to evacuate my dorm, but today I will be sharing details on what I chose to pack when I evacuated my college dorm.

What I used to transport items

While every student’s evacuation circumstances are different, I was given a large rolling bin that I could put items in that would be transported to the dorm I would be staying in. Instead of throwing all of the items in the bin, I decided to take the time to put items in two large tote bags and my backpack, and then used my comforter and mattress topper to wrap around my desktop computer before placing it in the bin.

In the large tote bags


While my comforter and mattress pad did not fit in the bag, I did throw sheets and a few blankets in one of the tote bags. I stuffed additional items in my pillowcases so that I could maximize space- for example, I put two pairs of jeans underneath my pillow so that I could have more space. Bedding may need to be washed once you arrive at the new dorm.


I tried to pack enough clothing that would last me at least ten days, since I had no idea when I would be able to get at my other items. This ended up including:

  • 7 shirts
  • 3 pairs of pants
  • 2 sweaters
  • 2 jackets
  • 1-2 pairs of pajamas
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • As much underwear and socks as I could grab
  • Special uniforms, i.e band, work, or sports uniform
  • Laundry stuff

For people who have access to laundry and who are really in a hurry, a great option is to grab the dirty clothes that are already in the hamper, as these are items that have been worn recently- just make sure to grab clean underwear!

Specialty items

There’s a few specialty items that I use in various classes such as my clarinets, assistive technology devices, blindness canes, and pens. Almost all of my classroom materials and books are digital, so I didn’t have to worry about grabbing academic materials, though I did make sure to put the specialty items in the large rolling bin so that I would be able to use them in my classes or for getting around campus.


After putting the two tote bags in the rolling bin, I put my computer on top last so that it wouldn’t move around too much when being transported to the new dorm.

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One of the other items I made sure to grab was my wallet and student ID, as well as other important cards such as my health insurance card and government-issued ID. These items can be very frustrating to replace, so I made sure to keep them physically on me at all times during the evacuation process, and secured them in my backpack when it was time to leave. These cards are also helpful to have in situations related to medical emergencies.

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In the backpack


While these are fairly easy to replace if there is no room to bring them, it’s important to replenish them quickly. Some of the items to bring, in order from most to least critical, include:

  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Soap
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Razor
  • Toilet paper (this was initially provided in emergency housing, which is why it is at the bottom)


While this may seem like an obvious thing, make sure that the medication bottle lids are securely attached and that the original packaging/prescriptions are present as well. I threw a giant bottle of Tylenol in my backpack without checking the lid first and it took forever to clean out!

Familiar item

Since evacuating a dorm is a chaotic experience, it’s helpful to bring a familiar item or two that can help with grounding and giving the new environment a sense of familiarity. I chose to grab my jewelry organizer and my favorite stuffed animal, and put them in my backpack so that I wouldn’t lose them.


I had a betta fish in my dorm, and instead of carrying the entire fish tank, I dumped my fish and some of his water into an empty Starbucks cup (which has holes at the top) and put the empty tank in my backpack. I was able to carry the fish in the water bottle pocket of my backpack, though if I did not use a blindness cane I would have carried the fish in my hand. If a student cannot take their pet with them, I recommend alerting someone that there is still a pet in the dorm- this happened to one of my friends, and they brought over the fish later that day.

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Checklist of what to pack when evacuating a dorm

  • Bedding- sheets, pillow, blanket, etc
  • Enough clothing for 7-10 days, or the contents of a hamper
  • Specialty items for classes, i.e sports equipment, instrument, assistive technology
  • Computer (can be wrapped in bedding items)
  • Wallet/ID
  • Backpack with toiletries, medication, and “familiar” item
  • Pet- betta fish can fit in a Starbucks drink cup

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What To Pack When Evacuating A Dorm. Ten things to pack when evacuating a college dorm due to smoke, illness, safety, weather, or other dangerous situations