Before the Event
Disruption in daily routines can create anxiety at any age, but children in particular may feel a special kind of distress in an emergency situation. Although each family should approach emergency preparedness in its own way, everyone in the family can play a role in the process, even children. Keeping children involved in the family's preparation plans – in a general way – can help make them feel safe without alarming them.
Before the Emergency
Experts agree that you should be honest with your children, and explain what's going on. It is important to warn children about disasters, without overly alarming them. Talk about things that could happen during a storm, for example, like the fact that the lights or phone might not work. Base your information and level of detail on what's appropriate for their age level.
- Share your family plan with your children. Children may be especially concerned about the safety of their pet, or knowing where to go and what to do if family members are separated.
- Tell children there are many people, or emergency responders, who can help them during a disaster. Teach them who to call and how to call for help.
- Create a children's emergency supply kit. Children will feel more comfortable in an emergency when surrounding by familiar toys and items to keep them occupied. Include as part of your emergency preparations, an emergency supply kit for your child. Solicit their input and assistance in creating the kit.
Children's Emergency Supply Kit:
- a child identification card
- emergency phone number list
- a few favorite books
- crayons and paper
- one or two favorite small toys, like a doll or action figure
- board game
- deck of cards
- favorite stuffed animal
- favorite blanket or pillow
- a picture of your family and pets
- a box with special treasures that will help them feel safe
- some favorite snacks (non-perishable)
Updated April 2015