Children can and should learn preparedness. Start with small, every day things that are likely to happen. Talk, prepare, and practice what to do in minor emergencies.
You already know that when you feel prepared, you feel more in control. The stress is reduced if you can approach an emergency situation with at least some degree of confidence.
Emergency preparedness is primarily about saving lives.
However, it’s also about being able to follow a plan and approach any emergency situation with decisive action. Your children deserve that sense of control and confidence.
Think about it – as a child, you’re inherently not in control. You’re usually told what to eat, where to go, and what to do. But in an emergency situation, children are often left without the guidance of knowledgeable adults. It’s a disservice to our children when we leave them feeling unprepared and uncertain.
It’s extremely important to talk with children of all ages and go over what they should do in various emergencies.
When children are old enough to read, consider writing down the steps to take in an emergency.
Younger children may benefit from photos, drawings, and other imagery to help them understand.
So what do you teach your children and what types of emergencies should they be able to handle? The most common emergency situation that a child can and should be able to handle, is calling for help. Children should not only know where the emergency contact list is, but also how to dial 911 and what to say.
Children learn differently.
Some children will prefer to hear the steps repeated to them.
Others benefit from practice 911 call sessions. (No, don’t actually CALL 911 – use a phone that’s turned off) Be sure they know that they don’t have to unlock your phone to make a call, that 911 always works.
Still others need and want to have the steps written down.
Do all of it.
Make sure that the steps are embedded in each child’s mind and that they know they’ll handle the situation properly.
Talk to your children about when it would be appropriate to call 911 and when it might be more appropriate to go to the neighbor’s house or to call a parent for help.
Role play and get your children involved in the discussion.
Well Prepared Is Well Informed
Make sure that your children know where the first aid kit is stored as well as what is in the kit.
Depending on the child’s age, they may be able to help a caregiver with first aid treatments. They may also be able to help you or a caregiver during an emergency.
Yes, it might be annoying when your child uses up the entire bandage box, but it really does pay off. And yes, it’s okay to practice, practice, practice, even as they get older. Make this so second nature that they don’t freeze up and ask ‘What do I do?” A ten year old can certainly clean a minor wound, apply antibiotic cream, and bandage it.
Many families talk about how to deal with strangers.They have code words and safe places. (We do – if someone other than EJ or I need to pick up my children, they’d better know a very, very specific code phrase.)
Families often have a plan for fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters.
Yet when it comes to basic home accidents and illnesses, children are rarely prepared. The information is not discussed. This can leave children feeling stressed and they may panic. And truthfully, it’s more likely that someone will burn themselves, fall down the stairs, or suffer a serious cut rather than the house will burn down or someone will attempt to abduct them from school.
Talk to your childen about what to do when someone is hurt.
Teach them how – and when – to apply bandages and antibiotic ointment. Practice, practice, practice, until it’s automatic.
Make sure they know how to use the phone and that contact information is kept within their reach. Teach them what to say – and write it down until they have it memorized.
Children are amazing, resourceful, and have saved countless lives.
When they’re prepared and informed they may save your life or the life of a loved one. Help your children by teaching them what to do in an emergency.
There’s so much more!