Preparing for disaster can be tricky business when it comes to educating children for something that may never happen.
With the convenience of technology, exposure to witnessing the effects of an emergency or disaster is much more readily accessible to our children than it was several years ago. Graphic photos and video that come across our television screens immediately following a tragedy can cause concern for your kids.
What can you do to assure your children so they feel safe now, and yet prepare for disaster, in case it should happen?
1. Limit the amount of media your kids are exposed to during a calamity in another area, especially young children. Watching the event over and over may cause them to believe the event is occurring again and again.
2. Answer their questions truthfully. However, explain and use vocabulary that is age appropriate. Avoid over burdening them with too much information and graphic details.
3. Get informed about the type of disaster that would most likely occur in your area. Check to see what emergency preparations your city, county and state have made toward disaster planning. However, don’t expect them to come to your aid immediately. Often it’s three to seven days before emergency services are able to offer assistance.
4. Prepare your family for an emergency. It helps the family accept the fact that emergencies do happen, but you can do something about it. When your kids know you are prepared, they will be less concerned.
5. Allow your kids to be part of designing the emergency preparedness plan. Have a communication strategy with telephone numbers so they will know who to contact.
Discuss the safety rules and decide where you will meet in case you are separated. Practice the plan. This will help you determine the “holes” in the plan so your can make revisions.
6. Assemble a disaster kit that will aid you in case you have to leave your home in a hurry. It’s suggested the kit should supply very basic needs, such as food, water and protection for at least 72 hours. Planning for 84 hours is even better.
7. Store enough food and water in your home to last from 3 to 7 days, in case you have to remain in your home during the emergency. Light, cooking and heat sources will be necessary also, in case electricity is not available for an extended period of time.
8. Involved your children in gathering supplies and putting your emergency reserves together. Participation will give them a sense of control. They will actually cope better during a disaster, if one were to happen.
P.S. The better your family is prepared for disaster, the less concern your kids will have about surviving difficulty. Sometimes is not a matter of whether you will survive, but how well you survive.