Include your children in planning for an emergency. Teach them how to get help and what to do in different situations. Practice your household disaster plan with your children and quiz them about preparedness information.
- Practice how and when to call 911.
- Memorize family contact information and carry an emergency contact card clipped inside a backpack or a pocket.
- Never touch wires lying on the ground or hanging from poles because of electricity.
- Learn how to identify the smell of gas. If you smell it, tell a grown-up or leave the building.
- Include your children in family discussions and planning for emergency safety.
- Find out details of your child's school emergency plan.
- Find out where you should pick up your child during a school evacuation.
- Pre-authorize a friend or relative to pick up your children if you can’t be there.
- Ensure that the school has up-to-date contact information for you and designated relatives or friends.
- Role-play with children to help them remain calm in emergencies. Practice basic emergency exercises such as Drop, Cover and Hold and Stop, Drop and Roll, and go over evacuation routes.
- Role-play with children as to what they should do if a parent is suddenly sick or injured.
- Role-play with children on what to say when calling 911 in an emergency.
Disasters cause fear and anxiety in everyone, but children feel these emotions more strongly. If you react calmly and reassure your children, you provide a model for how they might feel and react.
- Make sure one adult will always be with children.
- Maintain daily routines as much as possible to help reduce your child’s fear and anxiety.
- Verbally reassure your child often with firmness and love.
- Present a picture of the emergency situation that is realistic and honest, but also offers hope for improvement. For instance, “Tonight we will stay in a shelter. I’m not sure how many nights we’ll be there, but we will do our best to come home soon.”
- Imaginary fears are very real for children in emergencies. Be sure to take these feelings seriously and offer reassurance that things will get better.
- Encourage children to talk, ask questions, draw, or describe their feelings on a daily basis.
- Put a favorite toy, book, or game in your child’s to-go bag along with a family photo.
Great interactive online learning for kids at Ready.gov: Ready Kids
A multi-lingual guide for kids is available from the New York City Office of Emergency Management.