My children started back to school two weeks ago. The initial weeks always seem to be filled with assessments and reviews—what information has been retained from the previous year and what has been forgotten. Just as important is a review of emergency procedures. Children and staff familiarize themselves with the actions to take should an emergency arise. But how many of us parents make it a point on a regular basis to retrain our families about our own emergency preparedness plans in our homes?
September is recognized as National Preparedness Month. Many national agencies encourage families to develop and implement a plan in case of an emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the American Red Cross and U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides communication plans and preparedness plans in the case of an emergency, making it easier for parents to implement these concepts into their home. The following is a list of just some of the things to consider when talking about preparedness in the home.
- Assess the potential for emergencies in your area
Become familiar with the types of emergencies that may affect where you live. Each area will have its own unique set of disasters that could occur. Remember to hink outside of just weather-based emergencies and think about fires and even medical/public health emergencies.
- Run drills on what to do in the case of an emergency
I’m guilty of failing to train my kids at home about what to do in case of a fire, but I would be appalled if I heard that teachers and staff were not taking the initiative to teach evacuation during school hours to students. We can’t leave the conversations up to the schools or local law and emergency professionals to teach our kids how to respond to an incident.
- Develop a Communication Plan
Make sure children of all ages understand how to communicate in the case of an emergency. Make sure they know who to contact and where to go if a disaster should strike. The CDC provides more information about these plans, as well as a communication card template to guide parents in creating a list of contacts that may be reached in an emergency.
- Teach children basic skills related to emergency preparedness
Take the opportunity to teach children how to text and when that might be a better way to reach out as opposed to calling. Teach the “when” and “how” of calling 911. Make sure all members of the family know if and where fire extinguishers are in the home and where to find shut offs for the water, gas, and electricity in the home. Additionally, subscribe to an alert system or other notification source, like the Twitter handle, @CDCemergency that may disseminate information to the public in an emergency.
By incorporating the entire family into the emergency preparedness planning, young children can take an active role in their own sense of safety and empowerment. Emergency preparedness should not be based on fear. Use this month to educate your family on how to be proactive so that in the event of the unthinkable, everyone can feel confident in the actions they will need to take.