One of the reasons parents don’t do more to prepare their families is that they fear the very act of discussing emergencies could scare or harm their children.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, parents should discuss risks in age-appropriate ways. But research and experience show that when children know that their parents are taking action to keep them safe — and when they feel part of the process — they don’t feel threatened by the conversation. They feel safer.
Furthermore, when children practice plans before disaster strikes, they are less likely to panic in the event of an actual disaster. They’re more equipped to follow directions and to know to look to adults for guidance out of harm’s way.
That’s why it’s so important for parents and other caregivers to be prepared themselves.
Yet, as we’ve already established, adults are way behind where they need to be. The government and others have tried to inspire family preparedness for years. But this needle is very slow to move.
However, there are three important steps that families can take on their own to ensure preparedness. They are:
1. Teach ICE
Make sure kids know their “ICE” or In-Case-of-Emergency contacts. Make an ICE contact card for each child’s school bag or wallet. One of the three contacts should be out-of-state, in case local communications are down.
2. Work together
Create a family emergency plan and practice it together.
3. Gather supplies
Keep your family safe and nourished in case of an emergency. These should include a go-bag for each child with hygiene items, medicines, favorite activities and a comfort item.
Sarah Thompson, Associate Director, Community Preparedness, Save the Children, [email protected]