Dealing with survival and preparedness issues when there are young children in the household can be a challenge.
Not only must parents and caregivers deal with their own stressful circumstances, they must also deal with the fears and emotions of young ones who may not fully understand the chaos and the changes that are going on around them. Believe it – children can rationalize and feel the emotions and body language of the adults around them.
With that in mind, today I wanted to share my thoughts on doing the very best that you can to prepare your children in a calm, productive and safe manner.
A Dozen Preparedness Tips for Families
1. Include children in family preparedness discussions. Explain what you are talking about in a calm, assured manner and answer questions honestly and simply. Focus the conversation on the safety issues that will insure their survival.
2. Regardless of their age, teach young children to memorize their basic personal information such as full name, address, telephone number, and the names of their parents or guardians. This will be invaluable in the event they become separated from their family following a disaster.
3. Learn the disaster response policies of you child’s school or daycare center. Be sure to establish a backup plan so that someone is available to pick them up and/or care for them if you are unable to do so. A good idea would be to have the backup person check on them, regardless, just to be sure. (After all, you may be hurt and unable to call the backup person yourself.)
4. Make sure the school or daycare center has current emergency contact information for your children. They should also have a list of persons authorized to pick your children up from school. The last thing you want is for a kidnapper to take advantage of the chaos and snatch your child away for some nefarious reason.
5. Establish more than one family meeting site and make sure your child knows where it is. This will help if you cannot return to your home.
6. Establish an out-of-state contact person and make sure that your child and the school knows how to reach this person. Remember that although local phone lines may be down, long distance circuits often will be working following a disaster.
7. Teach your children how to use 911 and practice what they should say to the dispatcher when they do call.
8. Educate your children regarding the need to stay away from downed trees, downed utility poles and any wires that may be lying on the ground. Also teach them to recognize the smell of gas and – this is important – to tell an adult they smell gas even if they are not 100% sure. Include instructions to get outdoors and leave the home or building if they even think they smell gas.
9. Practice evacuation strategies and evacuation routes as a family project. Make an outing of it and while you don’t want to diminish the importance of the practice mission, make it fun as well.
10. If you live in an earthquake or other natural disaster zone, teach them basic responses such as Drop, Cover and Hold or Stop, Drop and Roll.
11. Prepare a mini Go-Bag for each child. Include a family picture, a toy, and a game, book or puzzle to keep him or her occupied. Also include some treats.
12. In the adult/family Go-Bag, include copies of the children’s birth certificates, recent photos and additional kiddie comfort foods.
Summing it All Up
A common mistake while prepping is to place too much emotional responsibility on the shoulders of children. It is our job as adults to help them so that when things do not go as planned, they can understand and behave in a proper manner. Do not assume that the kids are not interested or worse, unable to understand. In reality, they have an innate curiosity and even though they may only understand a fraction of what you share with them, they will soak it up like a sponge.
With that in mind, I cannot think of a better situation for including your children than a family discussion about planning for an emergency or survival situation.
If you would like to read more from Gaye Levy, check out her blog at http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/. Gaye started Backdoor Survival to share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. She considers her sharing of knowledge her way of giving back and as always, we at Absolute Rights are grateful for her contributions.