September is National Preparedness Month – a great reminder to prepare our families before an emergency strikes.
Here are 5 Ways to Prepare for an Emergency… WITH KIDS!
1. Talk Openly.
Don’t be afraid to talk to children about danger, weather, and tragedies. Be calm, matter-of-fact, and take their age into consideration while choosing your words. If they are old enough to overhear news, use current events as a teaching tool. If they are feeling unsettled, face their fear directly.
2. Promote Safety.
Many emergencies can be prevented if families and caregivers take precaution. Childproofing is not just for babies. Keep sharp knives, blades, tools, guns, etc. locked up and/or out of reach of children. Fasten furniture to walls to keep them from falling on children. Talk about matches, candles, & fireplaces and how easily fires can start. Older children can be taught how to use the phone to call for help. Adults should stay current with CPR and First Aid, as important life-saving details change regularly.
3. Create a Family Plan.
Children should be taught what to do in an emergency. Explain to them who safe people are. Point out a few safe places close to home – like a neighbor’s house or fire station and discuss where they should go to meet if their home is unsafe. Some families have code words that will allow kids to trust an adult they may not know. Put your Family Plan on paper and review it often with children and all caregivers.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice.
Help your children create good habits, by practicing the skills you want them to have. This could be creating a fire drill and doing a run-through a few times. You could even role play a scene where you pretend a stranger that approaches them. Practice “duck, cover, and hold” (the earthquake drill) and “stop, drop and roll” (as if their clothes are on fire).
5. Assemble a Grab & Go Kit.
Don’t wait until emergency strikes to gather the things you may need. Create a kit with crucial supplies and put it in one backpack that is convenient to grab & go. Include a flashlight, batteries, weather radio, first aid, snacks, water, and any other important item. Make sure older children know where it is kept.
There are many great resources available online. Here are a few to get you started: