Are you prepared in case an emergency such as a hurricane, earthquake, or man-made disaster such as an act of terrorism strikes? While we may get some warnings in the event of dangerous weather-events, other disasters, such as acts of terrorism, may not give us much time to act.
We may not be with our children when disaster strikes. Communications or power might go out. Whatever the emergency or the circumstances, there are steps we can take to make sure we are ready. Here are some tips on how to prepare for disasters, and what we can do to teach our children about how to handle emergencies.
- Prepare a disaster kit
An emergency kit is essential to have on hand in case disaster strikes. FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recommends one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days and at least a three day supply of non-perishable food, among other essentials. Also consider including a solar-powered/crank flashlight and radio.
- Track a storm.
If dangerous weather is headed your way, keep track of the storm on the National Weather Service website.
- Sign up for alerts.
You can subscribe to state and local alert services to receive text messages or emails about weather and other emergencies. Look on your local Office of Emergency Management (OEM) website for instructions on how to sign up.
- Print out or download some emergency information to have on hand.
In your emergency kit, you may want to include instructions on how to administer first aid. You can also download a smartphone app that provide information on first aid and disaster preparedness such as Emergency First Aid Guide for Android users and Pocket First Aid and CPR for Android and iPhone users.
- Know your school’s emergency plan.
Disaster might strike when your child is in school and you are at work. In the event of an emergency in the community outside of school, your school probably has a plan in place to take care of the children until parents can pick them up from school. Check with your child’s school at the beginning of the school year to make sure you have that information on hand in case disaster strikes.
- Have a meeting place set up in case communication is down.
Cell phones often do not work in emergencies, and electricity may go out. Be sure your caregiver and children know what to do and where to go if they cannot stay at home in the event of a disaster. Ready America has some smart suggestions for how to plan for handling disasters when your family is separated, such as designating an out-of-town friend or relative as an emergency contact and using texts when phone calls cannot get through.
- Reassure your child.
School-age children are tuned in to the news, and will likely pick up on any stress you may be feeling. Answer any questions your child may have about the disaster you may be facing, and explain to him what steps you are taking to make sure that he and the whole family will be safe. A great resource for kids is Kids.gov, which provides great, easy-to-understand information about earthquakes and other disasters, written especially for children.