Does your family have a personalized safety plan? Does your child know what to do in the event of a house fire? Who to call if you pass out and cannot answer their questions? Every family should have a safety plan in the event of any crisis that disrupts the flow of everyday life and requires more extreme than normal reactions or solutions. These events include such things as fire, bad weather, earthquake, sickness, accidents and so forth. Our family has had such a plan in place since our oldest child was about 3 years old. We update the emergency plan yearly, or as needed, and it has served us well.
Here is an example of our family emergency preparedness plan:
*In the event of bad weather, one child is to grab blankets and pillows whilst the other is responsible for the flashlights and bottled water on their way to the safe spot in our home-which at this time is the hallway in the midst of the house. My job in such an event is to get the phone and keep up with imminent weather news on the radio or television as we call get to safety. These things are only done if time permits, as getting to the safe spot is of critical importance. If Daddy is home, the news and overall protection of us is always his job.
*If the children are home alone and we do not return or call an hour after the agreed upon time, the children are instructed to call Grandma and let her know.
*If there is illness or an accident while the kids are home alone, the first call is to us on the cell phone as long as lives and safety are not in danger. If lives and safety are in danger, 911 is first, then our cell phone.
*In the event of a fire, always get out of the house and call 911 from a neighbor’s phone.
This is just part of our family plan, but it’s an example and you can make your own family emergency plan tailored to your family’s needs.
Children can and should be taught emergency preparedness from a young age. Even a very young child can learn to dial 911. Emphasize to the child, when teaching them to call 911, that the 911 operator will know what to do and not to worry about talking to them. Explain the types of events in which 911 is to be dialed, events such as if you or another caregiver fall ill or have an accident to where you cannot respond to the child’s questions or a fire or other situation in which help is needed. For older children that are left home alone at times, who to call if the parent cannot be reached, the children get sick or have an accident? Do they call 911 or other relatives, friends, family members? It is a good idea to sit down and write out a family emergency plan to post by the telephone or near the family event calendar for easy reference in times of need. This plan should be reviewed and updated at least yearly, more often as the need arises.
What about bad weather situations? Your family needs a plan of action for when severe storms and – or tornadoes strike. If there is a basement in your home, be sure the children know when to go there and stay until further notice. In the event of bad weather while you are not at home with your older children, coach them to go to the basement anytime the bad weather worries them and there they will be safe. A plan in the event of bad weather is a good idea in that it will save time if everyone knows what to do when watches and warnings are issues over the radio, television or via a phone call. One person could be in charge of blankets, pillows and the like while another is in charge of being sure flashlights and lanterns are accounted for. Older children can be responsible for grabbing a younger child in the event of a severe weather emergency as everyone heads to the basement or other designated shelter spot in the home. Speed is important at such times.
All family members being aware of the emergency plan and what to do in various emergency cases means peace of mind for both adults and children in knowing there is an emergency plan in place and most of all, it brings safety and even life-saving benefits to your family’s world. If you will with parents or some elderly member of a family you may want to check our Emergency Preperedness Guide for Older People.