A Family Emergency Plan
Besides emergency supplies, your family should have a plan for how to respond to an emergency. Take time regularly to discuss and practice for emergency situations with your family. Have fire, tornado, or earthquake drills so that children will all know how to safely exit your home and where to gather.
In planning for emergencies, consider what would happen if a parent or another family member were not at home during an emergency. Would the family members at home be able to respond to the emergency? Responsibilities for emergency response should be divided and often duplicated among family members so that regardless of who is at home, the family will still be able to respond properly. You should have a plan for how family members will contact one another if the family is scattered during the emergency. This may include having a prearranged meeting place, a code word, or a relative’s phone number.
Knowledge of first aid procedures will be invaluable for your family during any type of emergency situation. Younger children can learn most of these procedures, even CPR. First aid classes are offered at many locations within most communities. The Red Cross chapter in your community generally will offer a good basic first aid course, several types of first aid handbooks including a wilderness- and boating-specific types, and even first aid kits for purchase or occasionally that you can assemble yourself. The Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) classes are very good for emergency preparation. Neighbors can participate in emergency training together to share their skills.
In preparing your children for emergencies, consider the effect that exposure to repetitive media and news reports of real disasters may have on your children. You may wish to limit such exposure to reduce stress and anxiety. The Federal Emergency Management Agency website (www.fema.gov/kids) has some wonderful material to assist children in learning more about disaster preparedness. They have a program on the website called becoming a “Disaster Action Kid”.
Finally, help your family to know that if they are prepared, they need not fear emergency situations.