98 Percent of Parents of College Students Don’t Know Their Children’s Emergency Contact Information, Survey Says

“Unfortunately, many parents are not prepared when an emergency happens to their kids at college,” said Gail Schenbaum, co-founder of Umergency, whose harrowing real-life experience with her daughter was the impetus for creating the app.

Nearly all parents of freshmen college students (98 percent) do not have emergency contact information for their children’s on- and off-campus health and safety resources, according to a survey conducted on behalf of Umergency™, an app that helps college students and their parents navigate through any emergency, health or safety situation.

The survey questionnaire of more than 200 parents and guardians also revealed that 91 percent of respondents with kids living away at college did not have contact information for their children’s roommate, and all of them (100 percent) reported not having phone numbers or e-mails for their sons’ or daughters’ college dorm resident advisors.

Additionally, 94 percent of parents were unaware that they that would not be able to speak to a medical professional once their child turns 18 years old without their child’s permission.

“Unfortunately, many parents are not prepared when an emergency happens to their kids at college,” said Gail Schenbaum, co-founder of Umergency, whose harrowing real-life experience with her daughter was the impetus for creating the app. “Not having emergency contact information, signed consent forms from their children or even available medical insurance cards can be a nightmare for any parent during a health or safety situation.”

The survey findings come at a time when more than 20 percent of college-aged individuals – approximately 4 million – end up in the emergency room each year, with 700,000 college students becoming seriously injured from alcohol-related accidents. *

“Many parents in our survey felt that their children had what they needed when it came to books, dorm housing or meal plans, but it never dawned on them about planning for an emergency,” added Schenbaum. “Odds are a visit to the ER is inevitable due to car crashes, medical illnesses, accidental injuries and alcohol and drug overdose. It’s vital that parents talk to their children about campus safety and be prepared.”

Parental Tips to Prepare for an Emergency

Since the holidays are usually a time when students are back home with their families, Umergency suggests the following tips for parents on how to talk with their college children about campus safety:


  • Set a time. Pick a specific date, time and location, which will help ensure the conversation takes place, but also can create an atmosphere of seriousness.
  • Do your research. Learn more about campus security at your child’s college, including safety contact information, or download the Umergency app which offers critical resources prepopulated for 1,200 colleges and universities.
  • Explain the need for safety readiness. While many 18-22 year-olds feel invincible, discuss why being prepared is important to you and your child.
  • Have an adult conversation. Avoid excessive advice and lecturing. Listen carefully to your child and acknowledge any concerns or reservations.
  • Explore technology. While some parents may be more tech savvy than others, discover new safety technologies that may be suitable for both you and your child. Ensure that your child’s friends and/or roommates and their parents can be contacted during an emergency.

About Umergency™

Umergency is an emergency, health and safety app designed for college students and their families. The local and on-campus information comes pre-populated and is specific to each student’s campus, while the user-entered data is unique to each student and allows them to decide what to share and with whom. An Urgent Alert beacon notifies trusted contacts when immediate help is needed, along with the student’s GPS location. Additional features include the ability to upload and share a secure copy of the student’s health insurance card, and a digital medical consent form which can allow the student’s trusted friends and family to speak with medical personnel. Learn more about the app by visiting http://www.umergencyapp.com or follow on Facebook @Umergency, Twitter @Umergency and Instagram @Umergency.

*National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

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