Q: [All Ages] How do I teach my kids how to be prepared for an emergency?
A: Teaching your children how to prepare for an emergency doesn’t have to be overwhelming—in fact, it can be fun! Spring is a great time to talk to your child about family emergency preparedness and the importance of checking your home smoke alarms.
Our community’s most common emergencies are floods, earthquakes and wildfires.
Identify a neighborhood meeting place that everyone in the family knows about and can safely reach. Schedule a time for your family to practice evacuating and meet at your meeting place. Also, play “exit finders” when out and about with your child in stores, community centers and other venues or public places so that they know how to safely leave, if needed.
And don’t forget to share your family’s emergency plan with everyone who cares for your child. Work with them to create an emergency contact sheet—this important tool will help your kids (and other adults) know who to contact if you are separated from each other. Make sure to include: your child’s full name, your full name, your contact phone numbers (home, work, mobile) and your home address.
Keep a copy of the emergency contact sheet on your refrigerator and create a small version to store in your child’s backpack.
Next, set aside a Saturday or Sunday to have your child help you put together your family’s emergency kit. Consider creating a more extensive kit to keep at your house, and a smaller kit in the car.
A three-day kit for a family of four should include at least:
- Water—1 gallon per person, per day
- A first aid kit
- Non-perishable food items
- Extra types of identification cards for you and your child
- Extra cash
- Toiletries, including extra prescription medications
- Batteries—make sure to check them every six months
- A battery-operated or solar cell-phone charger
- A battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Helpful tools: can opener, wrenches or pliers
- Extra sets of clothes for each member of the family
- Garbage bags
- Duct tape
- Maps of Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego Counties and more
Brenda Emrick is a fire protection community education specialist with Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue. She is a member of the California State CERT Workgroup and ReadyOC, Orange County’s emergency preparedness program. For additional information, please visit www.readyoc.org.