Emergency Preparedness Basics: What to Teach Your Family

No one wakes up expecting to face an emergency, but the fact of the matter is that they happen. Do you know how your family would respond during an emergency? Where would you go if you needed to evacuate your home? 

One of the best ways to prepare for any emergency is by giving your family the tools they need to protect themselves. These tools are known as a Family Emergency Preparedness Plan.

Discussing emergencies with your kids may be scary, but they must understand your family’s unique emergency plan. Disaster can strike at any time, and preparedness is the best way to conquer it.

Identify Common Types of Emergencies 

The first step to preparing your family is understanding the types of disasters most likely to occur in your community. Discuss how often they’ve happened in recent years to help your children understand the importance of preparing. 

Subscribe to services that alert you to local emergencies, road closures, and bad weather. These alerts will ensure you don’t miss anything and remain ahead of any bad weather or other emergencies.

Establish a Communication Plan 

During an emergency, cell phone towers may be unreliable. Having a communications plan will ensure every family member knows who to contact. Create an information sheet with significant phone numbers and medical information. Make several copies and give a copy to everyone, including children, those with disabilities, and caregivers.

The most important phone number you can teach your children is 9-1-1. Begin teaching this as early as possible, along with their first and last name, address, and a parent’s phone number. This information equips your child with the basic information they need in any emergency.

Make an Evacuation Plan 

Some emergencies require you to evacuate your home and community. As a family, decide on a safe meeting place where you can reunite during a crisis. It should be a location outside your home, such as a neighbor’s home, a local park, or another family member’s house.

If your children attend daycare, decide where they will go during the emergency. Be clear on who will pick them up and designate a backup person to cover if you cannot get there.

Create an Emergency Kit 

Getting an emergency kit may seem like an expensive task, but if a day comes when you need it, you’ll be glad you spent the money. You can gather the supplies and build your own or purchase a premade kit. Either way, having a go-bag could save your family’s lives.    

Your emergency kit will be unique to your family’s needs, but the following items are a good place to start: 

  • Three-day supply of water 
  • Nonperishable food
  • Blankets
  • Flashlights
  • First aid kit 
  • Tool kit
  • Batteries
  • Kid-friendly activities 

Consider keeping a small amount of cash as part of your emergency kit if you need to evacuate your home quickly. Make sure every family member knows where you store this kit for quick access during a crisis. 

Practice Your Plan  

It may seem silly, but practicing your emergency plan at least twice a year will ensure your family knows what to do. Life changes, so update your preparedness plan every year. You may need to add a baby to your medical sheet, change your address, or update medical information.

Inspect your emergency kit regularly to prevent items from expiring before you need them. Don’t forget to replace drinking water and perishables. 

Additional Factors to Consider  

To fully prepare your family for an emergency, consider these additional factors: 

  • Check smoke alarm batteries 
  • Practice shutting off utilities 
  • Include your pets in the plan 

Remember special considerations for those with disabilities and special needs, as they may be the most vulnerable during an emergency.  

Why You Should Include Your Kids in the Conversation 

Kids understand more than we give them credit for. They see and hear things on the television that may worry them. However, involving them in the discussion and preparation for an emergency will help them feel comfortable if a disaster does happen.   

Use the tips above to create an emergency preparedness plan for your family. Hopefully, all you’ll ever have to do is practice, but you’ll feel confident that your family is ready if a crisis occurs.  

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