Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Emergency Preparedness

Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Emergency Preparedness

Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Emergency Preparedness



We’re coming to the end of National Preparedness Month 2021– and Week 4 is devoted to teaching youth about preparedness. It can be tempting to avoid scary or stressful conversations with our kids, but talking about emergencies before they happen is the best way to protect them from the real scary stuff! 

Learning about preparedness as a family is beneficial for everyone, and it can be fun too! We’ve gathered a few tips and resources to get you started.

 

Tip 1: Start right away

The best time to prepare for rain is on a sunny day! Speak to your family about emergencies now, and check in regularly to make sure they remember what to do. Don’t worry if your kit isn’t 100% stocked yet or you’re still refining your emergency plan – the most important thing is for your family to talk openly about preparedness and learn together.

Choose a time when your child is calm and focused, and they’re not rushing off to a dance class or soccer game or party. Avoid distractions as much as possible, and make sure they’re not too hungry, tired, or stressed to absorb new information.

 

Tip 2: Make it age-appropriate

If you have kids of different ages, speak to them separately and tailor your conversation to their level of development. For young kids, keep things simple and positive. Focus on basic skills like calling 911 and other emergency contacts and following instructions from parents and teachers.

For older kids and teenagers, get them involved in making decisions about your family emergency plan. Give them an appropriate level of responsibility; for example, they may help by caring for pets or younger siblings in case of an evacuation.

Be aware that in an emergency, kids of different ages will require different levels of emotional support. They may require more time and attention than usual, or they may return to behaviors that they have outgrown. Let them know that it’s okay to be afraid and to need more help than usual.

 

Tip 3: Practice makes perfect

Children and adults both can benefit from practicing preparedness skills and procedures before an emergency happens for real. While you can’t anticipate every detail, it’s a great idea to run through the basics of your family emergency plan a couple times a year.

Practice grabbing your emergency kit for an evacuation or a shelter-in-place order until you’re confident that every member of the family knows where it is. Walk evacuation routes through your home and neighborhood together. If you live in an earthquake or tornado zone, identify sturdy shelter areas in your home. 

Discuss possible scenarios and practice how to respond. For instance, what should you do if the power goes out? What should you do if your sibling gets hurt while you’re playing outside? Make this as interactive and practical as possible! A great place to start, especially if your kids get nervous when making phone calls, is to roleplay calling 911 so they’ll know exactly what to say.

 

Tip 4: The more the merrier

Involve your extended family, friends, neighbors, and community anyone who is involved in your kids’ day-to-day lives in your family emergency plan. Discuss emergency arrangements with teachers, babysitters, and other caregivers. The more people your kids can call on for help, the better, and make sure they know who those people are!

To keep things simple, we recommend keeping copies of an emergency contact sheet in multiple locations throughout your home as well as in cars, purses, and school bags. This should list phone numbers of local emergency services as well as personal emergency contacts. Also make sure to program all of these numbers into your kids’ mobile phones if they have them.

 

Tip 5: Make it a game

We all know that kids learn better when they’re having fun! They also retain more when they are active and all their senses are engaged. With that in mind, try to turn emergency preparedness into a game wherever you can. Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Practice using your emergency kit tools by having a camping staycation in the yard, or just by turning off all the lights in your home.
  2. Make packing your emergency bag into a race. Who can pack the fastest without forgetting anything? Can you do it in under 90 seconds? A minute?
  3. Memorize secure locations or evacuation routes in your home by turning them into scavenger hunt clues.

 

At PrepMeKits, we believe that preparedness is for everyone. You don’t have to be an expert to start making emergency preparedness part of your family’s regular routine. Get started with your comprehensive emergency kit and sign up to our mailing list for more tips and resources.

PrepMeKits helps you get prepared for the next inevitable disaster without the need to gather the kit contents yourself. Each kit is customizable according to your dietary and family needs. We can help you start your preparations today by providing expert consultations. Send an email to info@prepmekits.com to connect.