How Families with Young Children Can Prepare for Emergencies
It is always best to be prepared, especially when it comes to your family’s safety. You might dread having to come up with an emergency plan, but it is essential for keeping every member of your household coordinated during chaos and out of harm’s way. See the tips below to start your family’s emergency plan today:
1) Discuss Possible Emergency Events. To prepare your family for emergencies, communication is key. Sit down and talk about specific types of emergencies and you’re your plan would be for each scenario. Be sure to consider fire escape routes, flooding protocols, and what to do if you are separated during an emergency. Having a blueprint for each instance that you anticipate helps you and your loved ones respond effectively.
2) Consider the Details. While making points of your family’s action plans, you should consider the uniqueness of your household and each person in it. Some points to think over include:
- Ages of each member of the house
- Dietary or medical needs
- Location of safety zones (Red Cross shelters, schools, libraries, and the home of a trusted neighbor) and their distance from the home
- Pets’ or service animals’ needs
- Disabilities and/or assistance devices and equipment needed
- Responsibilities for who will assist whom (especially who will be in charge of helping your children or any elderly persons in your home)
One more important detail: keep a list of trusted numbers handy and labeled somewhere that everyone in the family can access easily.
3) Write Up the Plans. Draw out basic maps of your house, labeling all doors, windows, rooms, and potential items of interest (the stove, the fire alarms, etc.). Consider drawing lines of escape from each room so that anyone in any location would know the nearest, safest route. Make sure you plan for both nighttime and daytime strategies, and consider keeping emergency kits or packs of necessary items in easy-to-remember spots in your house.
4) Put It into Action. The final step to ensuring emergency plan success is practicing it. Like fire drills in school or posted exit paths at work, visualizing and understanding the routine firsthand can make it a lot less scary when the time comes to put it into action. Roleplay the motions required for the emergency that you are drilling for. Encourage crawling when rehearsing for fire situations. Pick up emergency kits or devices on your way out of the house as you practice leaving because of tornadoes. Meet up at your safe zone to conclude the drill. All of this will help each person commit the right actions to memory. Try to schedule walk-throughs at least once per year so that your family won’t forget the steps they need to take. It’s important to keep younger children calm in stressful situations, so practice will also aid in familiarizing them with the emergency routines.
It is important to let your children—the youngest ones, especially—know that they are safe, that there is a plan at hand, and that they will be taken care of in moments of emergency. If you are familiar with the routines and actions and have the pieces in place now, you will better be able to instill a sense of calmness and trust in your children during any emergency situation. Still looking for ideas about how to build your emergency plan? Websites such as Ready.gov offer starter guides that you can use to create an action plan that works for your family. The time to start making your family’s plan is right now.