First aid kit. (RI photo)

Classes start Monday at Iowa’s three public universities, and while students may have a full fridge and all the other furnishing needed for their college dorm room or apartment, one thing they might not have thought of is a first aid kit.

Dr. Kristin Avery, of the MercyOne Clear Lake Pediatric and Adolescent Care Clinic, says a well-stocked first aid kit is something everyone should have, wherever they live, especially teens just venturing off on their own.

“When we get sick and we’re in an unfamiliar place, having those pain relievers, things like Tylenol, ibuprofen, on hand and a thermometer, is great,” Avery says. “You know you’re going to get all sorts of bug bites and scrapes and bruises, so having some antibiotic ointment or some steroid cream on hand is a great idea, instead of having to go in and ask someone else, having a few of those things on hand is really helpful.”

Avery says students need to make sure their vaccinations are current.  “Especially the meningitis vaccine before going to college,” she says, “because that’s the time when they are most at increased risk for getting meningitis, so making sure we’re all up to date on that as well.”

Avery says students need to know where to go to get medical attention on their college campus and not to be shy about going in to get looked over.  “We will see kids through college, as long as they’re still in college, but they still are far away from us and need to know where they can be evaluated at when they’re sick or if other things come up,” she says. “Knowing their local resources is very important. If something is going on, they need to feel like they can go advocate for themselves and be seen.”

Avery says your current health care provider can play an important role in helping you establish healthy habits and routines when you leave for college.

(By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)