Preparing your kids to handle an emergency is critical. With pets, you can't explain what's happening; with your kids you have the opportunity to explain things to them in advance. It can be downright scary to have to react to an emergency for children, it is important to talk about it BEFORE anything happens.Having this discussion can go along ways towards calming them and reducing panic when you have to move, now. The last thing you will need is a panicky child as you race for the door.
Begin by choosing the best age appropriate language for your kids: base your talk in the idea that “We will all need to stay safe.”
The very nature of an emergency is the lack of warning and necessity of swift action; tell your kids things might happen and it is good to be ready, just in case.
Here are a few suggestions to help start this conversation:
Make it real, but not necessarily scary. Discuss how earthquakes, floods, tornadoes or floods happen. You can explain that these are parts of nature that we can't always predict or control, but need to be ready to find safety quickly when they happen.
As you make the emergency plan and escape packs, have them help you. Including them in the planning and practice will help them to remember what to do. Have them help you store the emergency stuff, so they know where it is. Show them where the fire extinguisher is and what to do with it ( if they are old enough).
Review and practice your plan with the kids. Be sure they can tell you immediately where they are to go and who to call if something happens and you are separated. Ask them to repeat this info several times until it is automatic.
Know what are the most likely threats for your area: are you in earthquake or fire country? Do you live along Tornado Alley or in the Southeast where hurricanes and flooding are possible? Explain what could happen and why you must respond they way you have planned.
Ask them how they feel about this possibility and what questions they have. What they hear versus what you say may surprise you; this will create a much stronger understanding between you. " But I thought....." can lead to some bad outcomes.
Remind them that these are unusual events: that they are safe and secure now. But unexpected things can and do happen, being ready makes handling them so much better and will help them to stay safe.
Focus on the positive. In every tragedy people show extraordinary courage and kindness. Acts of bravery, rescue and a sense of helping out are more visible more than in 'normal' times. Be sure to include these stories when you talk to your children. Be sure those examples are included in your conversations; there can be empowering moments in the midst of disaster.
As always preparation is key for everyone, especially those who will need extra help and support.
Image credit: http://beforeitsnews.com/contributor/upload/260402/images/prepared-children.jpg