September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) which serves as a reminder to all of us of the criticality of being ready for any emergency. To assist, the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency are providing resources and tools that include a wide range of emergency planning advice.
The theme for NPM 2017 is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” Keeping your family safe during emergencies is the number one priority, and planning ahead for such events can help ensure their safety. Parents need not be the only ones involved in planning ahead — kids can help, too.
Both young children and teens alike need to be part of the process — for their own safety and sense of empowerment, according to DHS. There are several ways that families can work together to prepare for an emergency event.
Build a Kit
Building an emergency kit is a hands-on activity that can help the whole family understand the importance of being prepared. FEMA’s website recommends stocking your kit with enough food, water, clothing and supplies to last for at least three days. Besides the necessities, kids may also want to pack some items for comfort and entertainment.
FEMA has created supply lists for both children and adults. These lists are high-level suggestions — it’s imperative to consider your family’s specific needs and ages of your family members when creating a kit.
Make a Communication Plan
Sit down as a family to talk how to get in touch during an emergency. Because your family members may not all be in the same place at the same time when disaster strikes, it’s important to make an easy-to-understand plan. Ready.gov recommends using the following steps to help kids stay in touch during a disaster:
Let your family know that you’re ok.
- Pick the same person for each family member to call or email. In some cases, it might be easier to reach someone who's out of town.
- If possible, avoid making phone calls. Instead, send a text message to avoid tying up phone lines for emergency workers.
Choose a meeting place.
- Create a fire escape plan that has two ways out of every room and practice it twice a year.
- Choose a meeting spot near your home, and then practice getting there.
- Choose a spot outside of your neighborhood in case you can't get home. Practice getting there from school, your friends' houses, and after school activities.
Keep your family’s contact information handy.
Keep your family's contact info and meeting spot location in your backpack, wallet or taped inside your school notebook. Put it in your cell phone if you have one.
FEMA has also created a plan for adults which can be found here.
Know the Facts
When it comes to disasters, knowing what you’re up against is half the battle. Whether you’re facing an earthquake, hurricane or a fire in your home, you can better prepare for emergencies if you get informed. Check out these facts about disasters here and play the Disaster Master and the Build a Kit games to test your skills!
For more information on disaster preparedness, visit https://www.ready.gov/.