September is National Preparedness Month and it’s the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about emergency plans and preparing for a disaster. Disasters can come in all shapes and forms including hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, brush fires, and more. There may be multiple reasons why your family may need to sustain without electricity or access to clean water. Regardless of the reason, children should be made aware of how to handle an emergency and to be prepared for when it takes place.
Being prepared is even more critical when you are considering individuals that may have disabilities, critical medications, poor mobility, etc. Do you have family members that utilize wheelchairs or walkers? Do you know what medications grandparents will need on hand and would you know where to find them? Is there anyone who has vision concerns and may need accomodations and assistance in the event of evacuation? This is the perfect lesson for children to take part in for considering the needs of themselves, their family, and their neighbors.
The Ready campaign by the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides multiple resources for being prepared for a possible disaster. Walk your children through the following guidelines:
What are the potential emergencies and disasters where you live, work, or visit? You first need to understand what situations you may need to prepare for. Check here for information of what emergencies may be prevalent in your area.
Make a Plan
Make a family emergency communication plan with your friends and family before a disaster occurs. Some important details that need to be part of the plan include:
- How will you get in touch with each other?
- How will your family get to a safe place?
- Where will you meet?
You can find additional information on how to make a plan here. There is also additional kid-friendly information that includes a downloadable communication plan that can be printed and completed together as a family.
Build a Kit
While each person’s abilities and needs vary, everyone can take steps to prepare for all types of emergencies. For example, being without access to medications, help, or other services you need to maintain your health, safety and independence for even a couple of hours or days could be devastating, and you need to be prepared more than ever. Find out what can be included in a kit here.
There are multiple ways parents and families can get involved in helping the community be prepared for an emergency. Planning for emergencies and disasters with people who have disabilities and others with access and functional needs rather than planning for them will allow us to understand and address the needs of the whole community in a disaster. Encourage children to make emergency plans and kits alongside with grandparents and neighbors who can use the assistance in covering all bases in preparedness. Make sure everyone understands why and how they need to customize their preparedness measures. If you know of anyone with disabilities who may need to learn more about disaster preparedness, you can find downloadable brochures here (including large print!).
Finally, celebrate your efforts as a family in emergency preparedness on September 30th, National Prepareathon Day! Look for local activities or create your own. You can register your own activities and be counted in the efforts to raise awareness and show how our communities can be prepared!