Children generally lack the same maturity and mental capacity as adults. You must help them prepare for the next emergency by instilling some very basic guidance. Also, learn what you must do to help them meet that challenge. Teach your child how and when to call for help. Keep local emergency phone numbers on all telephones.
- Include your children in family discussions and planning for emergency safety.
- Teach your children their basic personal information so they can identify themselves and get help if they become separated from a parent or guardian.
- Prepare an emergency card with information for each child, including his/her full name, address, phone number, parent's work number and out-of-state contact. Make sure each child knows how to reach your family's out-of-state contact person.
- Know the policies of the school or daycare center your children attend. Make plans to have someone pick them up if you are unable to get to them.
- Regularly update your child's school with current emergency contact information and persons authorized to pick up your child from school.
- Make sure each child knows the family's alternate meeting sites if you are separated in a disaster and cannot return to your home.
- Teach children to dial their home telephone number and 911.
- Teach your child how to recognize danger signals such as smoke detectors, fire alarms, and local community warning systems.
- Teach children what gas smells like and advise them to tell an adult if they smell gas after an emergency.
- Warn children never to touch wires on poles or lie on the ground.
- Roleplay with children to help them remain calm in emergencies and to practice basic emergency responses such as evacuation routes, Drop, Cover and Hold, and Stop, Drop and Roll.
- Role-play with children as to what they should do if a parent is suddenly sick or injured.
- Role-play with children on what to say when calling Emergency 911.
- Have your child draw a floor plan of your home and show two ways to get out in an emergency.
Things for Children in Your Emergency Kit
- Include a family photo and a favorite toy, stuffed animal, game, or book for each child in his/her go-bag.
- Include your child's emergency card and include information on reunification locations and your family's out-of-area contact.
- Provide comfort food and treats for each child in your family disaster supplies kit.
- Keep a recent photo of your children in your go-bag.
After an Event
- After an event-spend extra time with your children. Re-establish daily routines for work, school, play, meals, and rest.
- Encourage your children to talk and listen to their concerns.
- Calmly provide factual information about the disaster and plans for insuring their ongoing safety. Remember that what may be only slightly frightening for you may be traumatic for your child.
- Involve your children by giving them specific tasks to let them know they can help restore family and community life.