National Preparedness Month week 4 - teach youth about preparedness

Release date: 09/22/2021
Sponsored by: County Emergency Management Department, County Emergency Management Division

 

You’re never too young to learn about emergency preparedness. Well, okay, maybe infants won’t fully understand the topic, but preparedness shouldn’t just be for adults. Kids and teens should be included in family emergency planning, taught about safety practices and empowered to be prepared.

When preparing for emergencies, think of smaller scale events, like a school evacuation. These are likely to happen more often than a large earthquake or flood and are equally important when preparing. In these situations, your child will need to act and make decisions without you, so teaching them about emergency preparedness and your family plan will give them the tools and information necessary to make good decisions.

Here are some key pieces of information and safety practices your child should know:

  • How and when to call 911
  • Your emergency contact (memorize the number)
  • Multiple ways to get out of the house, especially if the front door is blocked
  • How to drop, cover and hold on in an earthquake
  • Your family password (to prevent your child from going home with a stranger)
  • How to use a fire extinguisher (for older children)
  • Where your family meeting place is

Here are some ideas on how to talk about preparedness with your children:

For kids: Make preparedness into a game! Learning how to drop, cover and hold can become a fun afternoon activity while still teaching your child important safety practices. Watch how this California mother does it. Ready.gov has some online games and apps you can use as well.

For teens: Once you and your family have a plan, ask your teen what if scenarios to see what they would do and make sure they know how to respond in an emergency. Teens can also engage more in preparedness, both at home and in the community. For extra passionate teens, consider the FEMA Youth Preparedness Council and Teen CERT. If your child is in the scouts, see if there’s a preparedness badge you can work on with them.

For young adults away at college: Just like you have an emergency plan and kit at work, your child should have one for their dorm or college apartment. Together with your child, find out what the college’s emergency response plan is. Make sure you and your child follow the safety department and local responders on social media to stay up to date on any incidents in the community near the college. Work with your kid to develop a college dorm or apartment emergency plan. Just like at home, identify escape routes, possible friends or family in the area to evacuate to and determine a communication plan to ensure your child stays safe.

Teachers can also incorporate preparedness into the classroom. Visit Ready.gov to find lessons and activities and other resources for your students.

Activity Focus: Pick a preparedness themed dinner conversation for your next family meal:

  • How will your family cook, light and heat your home safely if you lose power?
  • Who is your out of state emergency contact and when should this person be called?
  • Challenge your family to "make" a dinner using four emergency kit ingredients and see whose idea is the most creative.
  • Where is your family meeting place? Choose one place in your neighborhood and one in your community.
  • Pick an emergency situation and have your family members talk through what they would do. Start with something small or simple, like the stove catching fire while the whole family is home or a parent’s car breaking down on the way to afternoon school pick up. As your family gets more comfortable with preparedness, move to larger events like a winter storm that knocks out power for two days.
  • Where would you go if you needed to evacuate your home for three nights? What would you need to bring? If you have animals, what is your plan to evacuate with pets?
  • Do any of your family members rely on home oxygen, powered medical equipment or durable medical supplies? What types of emergencies could affect the use of those treatments? What are your plans for continuing those treatments in an emergency?
  • If you have pets, who’s responsible for making sure they have supplies and toys that are moved to the car if you need to evacuate? Where would be a good place to go that allows animals?

Media Contact:

Alita Fitz, Emergency Management Coordinator
5038467588
Alita_fitz@co.washington.or.us