Although it may be difficult to admit, when unexpected disasters occur,you can’t always be there to protect your children. For their safety, it’s crucial that you teach them about the different types of disasters they might face and create plans for how they should respond.
These plans might include things like evacuation routes, a centralized location for emergency supplies, contact information for various emergency services, and other details which could mean the difference between life and death if a catastrophe should come their way. Here are a few factors to consider when educating your children about disaster preparedness.
Keep Your Loved Ones Safe
When disaster strikes, your thoughts will likely turn to the people you care about most. Will your friends, family, and others within your community know how to respond in the face of a disaster? Educating children about safety precautions within a variety of scenarios is one of the best ways to support a culture of preparedness from the bottom up.
Some parents may choose to shield their children from the harsh realities that accompany various disasters. Admittedly,talking about these issues can be a heavy subject. However, rather than inspiring nightmarish fears about potential dangers, educating children about disaster preparedness can actually help them feel less stressed if a dangerous situation should arise.
Children who aren’t prepared or those who don’t fully understand the risks of certain disasters may become panicked or confused, which could cause them to be a danger to themselves and others. However,with a clear plan in place, children can have the confidence to respond to disasters in healthy ways with their actions as well as their emotions.
Practice Essential Skills
Depending on where you live, you may be at greater risk of certain types of disasters. For example, if you live in a place where floods, tornadoes, wildfires, or earthquakes are common, this may be the best place to begin. Unfortunately, disasters are often sudden and unpredictable. In these cases, there are some general skills that may help your child safely navigate many situations.
Begin by teaching your child about the emergency services that exist and when to contact them. Calling 911 is often a good response to a variety of dangerous situations, but this isn’t always the first thing they should do. If your child or someone around them is hurt, trapped, or in danger, calling 911 could allow them to get the help they need. However, in some cases, such as a house fire, it’s important that your child leave the home before making the call, either using a cell phone or seeking help from a neighbor.
It’s also important that your child understands who they can trust if they are separated from you or other familiar adults. You’ve probably taught your child to be cautious when interacting with strangers. However, in a crisis situation, they may need to be comfortable recognizing and seeking help from rescue workers, doctors, firefighters, police officers, teachers, or other adults within your community in order to stay safe.
It may be helpful to role play certain situations such as what to do in case of a fire or an extreme weather event. In some cases, you may need to designate a place outside of your home where the family will plan to meet up together in case you are separated. Making sure your child knows at least one parent’s phone number and can dial it from memory can also ensure that you find each other when disaster strikes.
Beyond Your Community
By teaching your children about disaster preparedness at a young age, they will gain skills and a sense of confidence that will serve them throughout their lifetime. Aside from understanding how to protect themselves in the face of local incidents, educating children about disaster preparedness could motivate them to eventually join nonprofit organizations that assist at-risk communities around the world. This could include developing countries or remote communities that don’t have access to the resources necessary to properly recover from disasters.
It may not be easy to talk with your children about the disasters they might face. However, this knowledge will give them the best chance at staying safe in a variety of emergency situations. By creating a foundation for disaster preparedness, your children will be more likely to continue to pass on this information to those around them, which could include their own children someday.
Brooke Faulkner writes and raises her sons in the Pacific Northwest. She is always looking for ways to make healthy living an accessible part of every day life. Find more of her writing on twitter, @faulknercreek