(Written by Daniel Fox) As a parent, you want to prepare your children as much as possible for how to take care of themselves and stay safe in emergency situations. Depending on your child’s age, different levels of information and preparation will be appropriate. You want to make sure you walk the fine-line of giving them the information they need and not terrifying them. Here are some suggestions for how to talk to your kids about what to do in an emergency.
Family Emergency Plan Step By Step
- Hold Regular, Calm Family Meetings
You should hold a family meeting to discuss emergency situations, and you should hold them every few months or so to make sure that your kids are reminded of life-saving information. It’s incredibly important to stay calm and stress that these are only precautions. Remind your kids that they are not in immediate danger, you only want them to be prepared just in case. You are giving them the information to be proactive rather than wait until something happens.
- Discuss Emergency Phone Numbers
Every child should know about 911, but they should be taught more than to just call it in if they need help. Talk to your children about what types of emergencies require 911 and the difference between them and other urgent issues that should be handled differently, such as by calling a parent, a doctor’s office, or poison control. Make sure they know who to contact for all different types of scenarios, and tell them exactly where they can find the phone numbers. If they have cell phones, store the emergency numbers in their contacts.
- Go Over Disaster Plans
Your family should have disaster plans in place that tell your children what to do in the case of things like weather-related emergencies. Your kids should know designated family meeting places, what the best escape routes are, and where in the home to go if there is a tornado, hurricane, or flood. Practice disaster plans and escape routes every few months or so.
- Identify Who to Ask for Help
There are lots of emergency situations your child could find themselves in, so it’s important to talk about who to contact even beyond emergency phone numbers. Remind your children that people in uniform, like police officers and firemen, are there to help. Remind them that they shouldn’t talk to strangers – especially single men – unless there is no one else around to ask for help. You should also tell your children who to call – such as a family member or friend – if they are unable to contact or find you or other immediate family members.
- Teach Basic First-Aid
All children should know and practice basic first-aid procedures, such as how to treat cuts or burns. They should know the location of a first-aid kit at home, too. If your child is older, you may even want to consider signing them up for a class that teaches CPR and first-aid. Being prepared to handle physical injuries is a very important life skill for anyone in an emergency.
Daniel Fox is a crisis expert related with family emergency plan and often blogs about the best ways to deal with both kids and emergencies.