As parents, some of us tend to be overly protective of our children. But sometimes we don’t realize or forget that they’re capable of handling more than we give them credit for. Once they are old enough to understand what’s going on, they realize that not all news is good news, and they just want to be kept honestly informed about family situations.
Keeping your children in the dark about emergency preparations – even if your intentions are good – may actually put them at jeopardy if and when an emergency situation does arise. On the other hand, making them feel like important members of the family when it comes to preparing for a disaster will go a long way toward them responding in the appropriate fashion once a crisis strikes.
Check out this comprehensive and well thought-out article on including children in preparation for a disaster, Preparedness Tips for Families with Children. What you say and how you say it to a child will be dependent on their ages and maturity levels, but this article provides some basic steps that would apply to kids of almost all ages.
Young children might not fully understand about the chaos that could ensue following a disaster, but they’ll be able to read your tone of voice and body language as you explain to them the importance of being prepared. Make sure you do it in a calm manner that will alleviate any fears those youngsters might have.
Following are a dozen tips for parents who have chosen to talk to their kids about being prepared for a crisis:
- Include your children in family preparedness discussions, answering their questions honestly.
- Have your kids memorize their personal information, including their names, parents’ names, address and phone numbers.
- Learn the disaster response policies of your kids’ school or day care center and have a back-up plan in place for someone to pick them up if you can’t.
- Ensure that your kids’ school or daycare center has your current emergency contact information.
- Have at least two pre-arranged meeting places for your family and make sure the kids know where they are, as returning to your home in a crisis might not be possible.
- Establish an out-of-state contact known by your children and their school or day care center, in case local lines are down and only long distance circuits are functioning.
- Teach your kids how to use 911 and rehearse what they should say to a dispatcher.
- Make sure your kids know to stay away from downed power lines, utility poles and trees.
- Practice evacuation routes and strategies as a family.
- Teach your children responses such as Drop, Cover and Hold, and Stop, Drop and Roll.
- Prepare a small bug-out bag for each child, including items such as a family photo, toy, game, book or puzzle, plus treats.
- Place copies of your kids’ birth certificates, recent photos and kids’ comfort foods in your bug-out bag.
Do you agree that kids should be kept in the loop about this subject? Are there any other tips you would suggest for making sure your family is as prepared as possible for an emergency? Hope to hear from you about this subject.