When a disaster strikes it is scary for everyone, but it can be especially frightening for kids. Since disasters can occur anytime with little to no warning, families may not be together when they happen. Helping children and teens prepare for emergencies can not only ensure their safety, but also impact the safety of those around them.
How to help them prepare
- A family plans together. As your family creates their emergency plan, it is important for kids to understand their role and what is expected of them. Discuss topics such as what they need to do if the electricity goes out, where to go in case of a tornado and where the outside meeting place is in case of a house fire. Let them ask questions and address any concerns they have.
- Be inclusive of their needs. Your family needs to have an emergency kit with enough supplies to last for at least 3 days. Allow kids to choose snacks they like such as granola bars and fruit gummies. It is also important to let younger children include a blanket, toy or book to bring them comfort during a stressful time.
- Communication is key. In case of separation, families will want to be reunited as soon as possible. Phone services can be unreliable. Texts can usually be delivered even if phone calls do not go through. It is good to have a family communication plan that lists someone out of town as a central contact if family members cannot reach each other.
- Practice makes preparedness. Running drills and different scenarios is the best way to make sure everyone is ready when a real disaster occurs. Being familiar with a situation will increase confidence in an actual event and can help calm nerves and lessen distress.
Help them help you
The time during and after a disaster is often uncertain and a parent’s main concern is the safety of their children. Ensuring kids and teens are prepared and able to respond appropriately during an emergency also offers a measure of reassurance to caregivers. While it is impossible to know when a disaster will happen, making sure your entire family is ready is the best way to help everyone stay safe.