The New Year gives us a fresh start to take what we’ve learned from the past year and make changes for the better. This year, I encourage all parents to resolve to protect their families and get serious about making an emergency plan that will ensure their children’s safety when disaster strikes. BONUS: A family emergency plan is a lot easier to maintain than a new workout routine. So this year, set a goal that you can easily accomplish while keeping your family safe!
Why Now? 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a devastating Gulf Coast storm that exposed gaps in emergency child protection here in the U.S. Did you know that it took seven months for the last child to be reunited with her family following that storm? It’s scary to think about, and we can’t let that happen again. The good news is there are several simple, low-cost actions you can take that will help ensure that when disaster strikes, your children and family are safe.Below are a few tips to help you get started.
- Know the Facts: Disasters can happen anywhere at any time, and they can happen to you. Disasters often strike without warning, and even if a major storm isn’t forecasted, a little storm can be a big disaster if your family isn’t ready to handle it. Learn what disaster risks are in your area and how to prepare for each type.
- Start the Conversation: Talk to your kids about natural disasters in a way that is age-appropriate. Let them know that disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes are natural events that nobody can control. Answer questions honestly, but not graphically. Reassure them that when storms happen, adults and first responders like firefighters and police officers are working to keep them safe.
- Connect with Caregivers: Get familiar with the emergency plan at your child’s school or child care program. Identify friends and family members who can act as emergency contacts and keep their contact information up-to-date with phone numbers, email addresses and social media profiles.
- Cover the Basics: Go further than switching the batteries of alarms in your house twice a year. Make a family plan that includes evacuation routes, shelter-in-place locations and meet-up spots should your family get separated.
- Be Aware: A big part of staying safe in emergencies is being aware of weather warnings and knowing when to act. Know where to find weather updates on your local radio and television stations, as well as online. Sign up for local text alerts that send emergency information directly to your phone so that you can monitor emergency situations as they occur.
Whether you’re a parent, caretaker or neighbor to small children, you play an important role in keeping them safe from harm. Make a resolution to do something important this year and take steps to ensure 2015 will be a safe year for children everywhere.
How do you plan to prepare your family for emergencies this year? Share with us in the comment section below!