A Holiday Recipe for Readiness

On Thanksgiving we spend hours preparing – basting turkeys, mashing potatoes and tossing salads – all for one delectable meal. But when it comes to safety, we routinely fail to prepare. It seems most of us are more prepared to collapse on the couch in a post-feast stupor than we are to protect our families from danger.

When I was 10 years old, my family’s Thanksgiving turkey had had enough of our illusions of invincibility. The little buzzard went up in flames turning our oven into a fiery furnace and prompting a flurry of screams:

“Open the door!”

“No, get the fire extinguisher!”

“Are you videotaping this?”

“Stop, drop, and roll!”

In the end, all that we lost was a couple of drumsticks and all faith in my parents’ ability to handle a small kitchen fire. But that event quickly rid us of our apathy toward emergency planning. Thanks, Turkey.

The holiday season offers a perfect opportunity to make a family emergency plan while the whole family is together. Here are some tips you can use to make the most of this time together to create an emergency plan:

  1. Family Time: The holidays provide a much needed break from busy work and school schedules. Take this time to talk over different emergency scenarios, contacts and meeting locations to help your children understand what to do in an emergency situation. Having trouble squeezing it in? Talk about it during the car ride to Grandma’s house!
  2. The Big Game: If you’re watching the big football game you’re already in game-plan mode. Build off that team spirit and make planning fun. Give each child a nickname, create codenames for different parts of the plan, and write down the plan and post it where all family members can find it, just like a playbook.
  3. Greeting Cards: As you’re sending out holiday cards filled with well wishes and photos showing just how much the little ones have grown, you should also think about updating each child’s ID card. This includes medication and allergy information, a current photo and emergency contact numbers and emails. Be sure to share these cards with teachers and child care providers as well!
  4. Visitors: Whether your family is traveling or inviting company to your home turf, use this opportunity to identify your out-of-town emergency contact. This person can serve as a satellite if an emergency shuts down local communications and help the family reunite. Have your little ones practice calling out-of-town contacts to wish them a happy holiday.
  5. Shopping: While you’re out trying to find the perfect holiday gifts, stock up on key supplies for your emergency kit, including water and food for each family member, flashlights, batteries and a radio. Don’t forget kid-friendly items like diapers, fruit snacks and child-strength medications.
  6. An Annual Reminder: The best part about the holidays is that they happen every year! Make emergency preparedness a family tradition and update your plan each year.

Planning for emergencies doesn’t have to be overwhelming or rushed, but it does need to be done to ensure you and your children will be safe no matter what happens. Be sure to use Save the Children’s family emergency checklist to help you every step of the way. Your entire family will be thankful that you did!