College, Prepping, and COVID: What Students Should Have, Know and Do

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This year our college Freshmen (or Sophomores, Juniors, or even Seniors) are likely to have a radically different college experience than they would have had last year. Preparing your older teen or young 20-something to get ready for college can be an emotional experience for the parents. This year, we’ve got to take other things into consideration before sending them off.

An article on equipping kids for survival preparedness needs while going to college would normally be a totally different conversation. I’ll get to the college emergency basics etc. later, but we need to deal with the elephant in the room first…COVID.

Scrambling…in Central Illinois

My son arrived at his chosen college in Pensacola, Florida on June 5th to start work. July 30th, he got a sore throat and was tested for Covid.

The test came back positive.

We knew this was a possibility, but didn’t EXPECT it to happen. He’s young and healthy. You just don’t think it’s going to happen to YOUR CHILD. At least I didn’t. So we had a conversation with his doctor, and then she called him directly.

Prescriptions had to be filled. A nebulizer had to be shipped. Supplements and teas were sent. We kept in close contact with him several times a day – since he was in isolation and pretty much saw no one. As of today – August 10th, he’s out of isolation, and he returns to work tomorrow.

What are your preventative suggestions?

I wish I would have sent him more supplements. I’m not 100% SURE that I sent him with any supplements at all, but I thought I did. He says if I did, he has no idea where they are. (Insert my audible sigh here.)

Vitamin C: As a baseline, your student should have enough vitamin C to take 1000mg twice a day until Christmas – assuming he or she is coming home for Christmas. Costco has a great vitamin C (1000 mg per tablet, and 500 tablets per bottle) for a wonderful price.

Vitamin D: The second thing I wish I would have sent with him is vitamin D. Vitamin D works more like a hormone than it does a vitamin. This vitamin helps support and bolster your immune system – 5000iu of vitamin D daily would have helped my child stay healthy.

Zinc – At least 30 mg: I also wish I would have sent him with Zinc. I’ve read a pediatrician named Elsa Song who has said, “Zinc + zinc ionophores (compounds that affect the cellular transporters for zinc) have been shown to block SARS-CoV multiplication, which means that they may be able to stop the current circulating SARS-CoV-2 from replication and wreaking havoc in our immune systems.” (I was prescribed zinc a long time ago, but I found that I can get zinc at an amazing price through a company called Life Extension.)

Xlear: The same pediatrician said, ” I believe that one of the MOST preventive things you can do for any viral respiratory illness is to irrigate your, and your children’s, nasal passages with saline or Xlear nasal spray at the end of every day and after any potential exposure (work, school, playgroups, plane travel, etc).”

Foods: Maybe better to be described as drinks. I looked everywhere – okay maybe two different stores in town – to find a specific item that I thought would help him – Breathe Easy Tea. We have used this in the past and since I can’t be there to cook homemade chicken noodle soup for him, this was a close second, but I couldn’t find it!! So I had to go with two back-ups: We sent him two packages of Throat Coat tea since he was saying that his throat was his main complaint. I also sent him peppermint tea since to help open up his airways.

Equipment for Covid: I mailed him a nebulizer because our doctor put him on an inhaled steroid called budesonide. This requires a nebulizer. While I don’t necessarily recommend sending a nebulizer to college with your kids, there are other things that you may need to buy to send with your kids to college.

Masks: You need to find out what policies your kid’s college of choice has in place in regards to masks. I am not in favor of wearing them, but a lot of that is because I can’t breathe in them. My solution for myself – and for my son who will have to wear a mask despite having already contracted Covid – is to use face shields.

What are your tips for prepping and college?

So now that we’ve tackled the elephant together, let’s see if we can make sense of general preparedness when it’s related to your (and my) college student. (If you just came for the Covid portion of this article and you want to know what I’m doing for our family still in Central Illinois? I’ve got an article devoted to that here.)

I don’t know if you’ve ever read Event Horizon or The Jakarta Pandemic/Alex Fletcher Series. Event Horizon is book three in the series. Alex Fletcher’s (the main character) son is at college in Boston, and they live in more rural Maine. Alex takes a trip into the heart of Boston to bring his son and his son’s friend home from college.

As a mom, this is my greatest nightmare. My son is about 900 miles from where we live, and the thought of an EMP or a nuclear attack, while my son is a fourteen-hour (non-stop) drive away, terrifies me! I’m going to level with you. If something REALLY BIG happens while my son is at college, I honestly don’t expect to ever see him again. But I don’t expect something really big to happen, and I trust in the Lord that He’ll keep my son safe.


  • Bug Out Bag: Make sure it is stocked as well as it can be.
  • Knife: Unlike me, he prefers a fixed-blade knife. *His college allows him to carry a knife.
  • Sleeping bag: Rated down to 40 degrees. Living in Pensacola that is sufficient.
  • Small survival kit: This has a lot of the basics including another knife, a flashlight, a compass, a very loud whistle, a survival chain saw, fire starter, tactical (glass breaking) pen, an emergency blanket, swiss card, and survival bracelet.
  • First-Aid kit: Very important whether for the dorm room or if something happens.

RELATED: Building a Better Bug-Out Bag-You’re Not Going on a Fun-Filled Camping Trip

Filtering Water

Making sure he had adequate water was very important. I’ve always used Berkey water bottles for this before, but after reading Coming Home by A American, I was convinced to go a different direction with a water filter. The reason that I purchased this water filter is that it is cleanable and filters the water as it pumps.

My thought process behind this filter is that with a life straw, you can’t carry water with you without contaminating the container.  And if you don’t mind a contaminated container, you may not be able to fit the life straw down into it or it might be too short to reach anything but the top part of the water bottle. After looking at situations from multiple perspectives, it made sense to go ahead and purchase a separate water filter and water container.

RELATED: The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide – Are You Ready for a Long-Term Water Emergency?

Does he have the necessary knowledge and skills?

Who cares what tools you have if you don’t know how to use them, right? So while my son knows how to start a fire and can make a make-shift shelter if need be there are other things that he would need.

I wanted to get him a good guidebook for foraging. Well, unfortunately to this point I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, however, there is a new book that will release in October of this year by Mykel Hawk (Man, Woman, Wild) called Foraging for Survival. I’ve already purchased it, and once it’s actually released, I’ll go through it. I’m sure, it’ll get to my son quickly – and I’ll probably pick up another copy for myself.

Some other books we equipped our son with were: Dave Canterbury’s (Dual Survival) book Bushcraft 101 and The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs.

What if something big happens?

We have had this conversation with my son. Fortunately, I went to college at the same college and still have friends in the area. We visited two of these friends with my son when we were there to drop him off. He has contact information for both of the dad’s. So, if he needed to, he could make it to at least one of the houses of friends.

We don’t think that it’s feasible for him to make an 800-mile journey home with just the items in the pack we provided. Although, sometimes my son is stubborn – I have NO IDEA (looking around innocently) where in the world he gets it from! Anyway, because I know my son, we’ve also provided him with a road map of the eastern United States.

But we didn’t stop there. We marked people that we know (and their addresses) along the way so that he should be able to find shelter. There are some huge gaps, but at least he’ll have something by which to go if he decides he must try to get home.

For your own child – how far away will they be? Do they have a vehicle that they can drive home? Do you want them to stay put? Is there a person in the area that they can stay with until you can get to them? These are conversations that you need to have with your child BEFORE you send them off.

RELATED: Raising Competent Kids in an Incompetent World

What about you?

What items would you send off to college with your child ‘just in case?’ Are there other books you feel are important for them to have that will give your child the ability to make it through a large survival situation?  I’d love to hear! Share your thoughts with us in the comments below so that we can all be better prepared.

About the Author

Karen Morris has survived some life-changing events, like the Ferguson riots, an armed standoff with a knife-wielding man during my family’s time at a local homeschool chess club, and an F-4 tornado, Each of these events taught her a new level of self-sufficiency and preparedness. From there, her journey to self-sufficiency started with food storage and grew beyond her wildest imaginings. Find out more about Karen Morris: Her books:  A Year Without the Grocery Store and A Year Without the Grocery Store Companion Workbook Her website:

Karen Morris

Karen Morris

Karen Morris has survived some life-changing events, like the Ferguson riots, an armed standoff with a knife-wielding man during my family’s time at a local homeschool chess club, and an F-4 tornado, Each of these events taught her a new level of self-sufficiency and preparedness. From there, her journey to self-sufficiency started with food storage and grew beyond her wildest imaginings. Find out more about Karen Morris: Her books:  A Year Without the Grocery Store and A Year Without the Grocery Store Companion Workbook Her website:

Leave a Reply

  • Karen, I wouldn’t disagree with any of the basic preparedness discussions you and your son have had — although I didn’t see any mention of a basic cook kit, protective tarp (at a minimum), and some basic communication tool(s) whether cell phone, ham radio transceiver, etc, and some cash. Where I have some major questions are about the possible outcomes of completing whatever collegiate degree program your son is pursuing — including the marketability of such a degree in this US economy which appears to be under multiple tyrants’ thumbs for years to come — PLUS the possibility of a humongous debt load that may well be unpayable. Those two issues might suggest a radical change of plans to something like a trade school (for skills that might be critical in a longterm crashed economy — recall that the 1930s Great Depression lasted over a decade) or for an apprenticeship system (such as Germany uses very well), or even an overseas education when the costs are a tiny fraction of the bloated college bills that decades of federal money have pushed into the stratosphere here.

    I don’t know what research you and your son might have done on the foreseeable marketability of his for-now degree plan. I know there are millions of grads with future-killer loan monsters on their shoulders where the banking industry lobbied hard to make sure that taking bankruptcy was not an available way out.

    Decades ago after I worked my butt off to get a 5-year BSEE (back before the school bills had gone stratospheric), I learned what it was like not to be able to use it after I was forced to waste 4 years in a military slave’s uniform doing anything but keeping current with the rapidly changing technology of that era. When I got out, and threw my uniforms into a dumpster, I met other BSEEs who were pumping gas because it was the only work they could find. So I had to start all over.

    The difference was that I didn’t have a lifetime-choking student debt to destroy my rebuild.

    Today, the future of the US (and global) economy is very much in question. The Covid-19 mess is being used to lock down economy after economy, and the tyrant’s tease of “just a little longer” appears to be unending. (This is also at a time when many colleges have gone full-blown Marxist.) The annual meeting of global oligarchs in Davos, Switzerland is all about continuing such lock downs to enforce some kinds of tyranny we’ve not seen in world history before.

    I can’t know what your son’s unique skills and ambitions might be. What I am saying is to look very carefully at what has happened recently to graduates in his intended field of study. Have they done well? Or have large percentages of them moved back home because they could not find sufficiently paying work? Are their parents’ retirement funds jeopardized because they unwisely co-signed for such horrendous loans? And probably, most such numbers probably PRE-DATE the Covid-19 economic crash and the countless millions who are about to become homeless.

    There are lots of colleges in this era that will go belly-up bankrupt after 1) their way over-priced systems are abandoned in the marketplace, and 2) their medieval model of teaching becomes obsoleted by modern technology and offshore competition.

    I am simply hoping that you and your son can avoid the various potential minefields I have mentioned.


    • Thank you for this insight. My kids are almost 15 and 17. We definitely need to think about college in a different light. This gave me some meat to chew on. Thanks again!

  • budesonide can be purchased over-the-counter as rhinocort. it does not require a nebulizer, but is simply sprayed into each nostril a set number of times. makes it easier to use. if the concentration is less than what the doc ordered, more sprays can approximate the desired strength. useful stuff and not expensive.
    i second lewis’s comments. now is not a good time to go deeply into debt for schooling (is there a good time?). perhaps not a good time to be far from home, either. we need plumbers, carpenters, nurses, physician’s assistants, mechanics, etc. he may wish to acquire a degree in a field of interest that is unlikely to help him earn a living. he can certainly do coursework of his choosing along his way in life. i did not get a college degree until i was 41. it took 10 years to complete the first two years, taking one cherished course at a time while i made a living in another field. it was certainly worth making the effort. but it was not how i originally planned it. 3 kids and the vietnam war got in the way of my plans.

  • Money from student loans has jacked up the price of American college. And today’s schools are no longer places of inquiry and debate, but of “political correctness” and suppression of ideas. Most should go abroad, and choose the nation very carefully, at that.

  • Karen,
    I appreciate the careful thought you have given this, and presume you, your son, and your family thought carefully about the “why” of college education before you posted this. I’m sorry others feel compelled to criticize the decisions you’ve made.

    I think you may be wise to give your son a “just in case of emergencies” credit card to use. There may be a time when that won’t be useful, so I used to always keep a $100 bill folded up in the pocket of my drivers license, just for emergency use. Since my state now provides a sealed license (no pocket available to stash the cash) I’ve found it easy to purchase a lip balm, screw the balm upwards until I can remove it (save for another use?) and then insert a carefully folded/rolled $100 (or $50 or $20, as needed). No one will think twice about a lip balm in your pocket (even a thief won’t want your ‘used’ chap stick!), but the cash inside could come in handy in a bad spot. Many blessings to you and your college-bound son!

  • I found your article very useful, I have a granddaughter starting college next week. One of her, and her parents ,prime concerns, before the COVID crisis, was distance from home. They decided on no more than 4 hours away – a distance that could be done from home to college and home again in one day. Medical preps are somewhat up in the air for her, but her Mom is on the ball with the supplements. She also reconsidered her major to be in a field where she should be able to be employed readily.

    There’s lots more to consider in going off to college, not the least of which is employablilty after graduation, cost and how long it will take to recoup that cost, reputation of the college as that figures into being employed, safety both medically and physically at the college. I certainly wouldn’t want to start my career owing thousands and thousands of dollars.

  • Very glad to hear that your son came through COVID-19 O.K. Hopefully he has made a full recovery and won’t develop any bad sequelae. One thing though, a face shield won’t protect you, or others, nearly as well as a good quality, snug-fitting face mask can when worn covering your mouth and nose. If the mask you wore wasn’t comfortable, I suggest you try other styles to see if you can find one that works better for you.

  • You are a great Mom! All of the basics and more you covered. I sent my oldest son off to college and within the first few weeks had a text message from the school that an active shooter was on campus and was going into lock down. Get on your sons college emergency text system.
    Make sure if he’s locked down where they would take him. It turns our son was to be herded off campus at a convention center. He immediately left class as planned and was supposed to return home, but took 2 other girls that were far from home and headed toward the nearest town. The plan we pre-arranged didn’t work because the girls family told him to change our plan. Didn’t see that one coming. My youngest son is now back at college with his car since I won’t leave him without transportation to get home in an emergency. The route is known and he knows to first shelter in place the 24 hours to allow me to drive their and get him. If no one arrives he is to head home on a pre-determined route. Cash is always in his car, don’t rely on cards to work at gas pumps. Last year he was hungry and used the cash!? Sent him back this year with more hidden cash and his BOB loaded in the car. Smart to introduce him to your friends. You’ve done a great job preparing him so relax and continue praying for him.

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