Teaching your kids about emergency preparedness

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From Metro Creative Services

Emergency preparedness is something everyone in the household should learn, including children. But approaching the topic of emergencies with youngsters requires finesse. Children are capable of comprehending many things, especially when information is presented in age-appropriate ways.

The American Red Cross recommends parents narrow down the subject matter when discussing disasters and emergency readiness with kids. Parents and caregivers can start by determining which disasters are most common where they live. There’s no need to broach hypothermia safety, for example, if the family resides in a warm climate. Another good step is to speak with schools or daycare centers to find out how they handle the subject of emergencies, and then reinforce those lessons at home.

The local library may have books in their children’s section and there are plenty of online resources that address safety skills and emergency preparedness in language that children can understand. In addition, the Red Cross notes there are mobile apps designed to teach and reinforce important safety skills in informative but fun ways. For example, the Monster Guard app is geared toward kids between the ages of seven and 11 who are asked to join the Monster Guard and prepare for real-life emergencies at home and in other environments.

Children may not understand everything that goes into preparing for an emergency, but they may be more inclined to get involved if they are given tasks they can handle. Children in Pre-K to grade 2 can learn how to dial 9-1-1 or practice “Stop! Drop! And Roll!” safety techniques. Older children can be tasked with making emergency supplies shopping lists and helping to put away these items, or working with parents to devise a home evacuation plan.

Practice makes perfect, and once families determine which emergency plans they should put into effect, they can role play with children to help make sure that everyone recognizes what to do in the case of an actual emergency. Important phone numbers can be posted in a key location (and programmed into mobile phones), and children should know what to do in the event they get separated from their guardians during a weather situation or another emergency. Children also can help pack go bags with key items they don’t want to part with should they need to evacuate home due to a weather emergency.

Children can be involved in emergency preparedness by working through topics they can understand and explore.

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