We cannot always protect our children from every possible threat, but we can help them feel more secure. One way to do this is by making a Ready-Steady Emergency Kit.
The purpose of the kit is to help children develop a sense of control and confidence in their world. Giving children a sense of security reduces their anxiety and can help them cope when the unexpected happens.
Preparing an emergency kit should be a family activity. A fun way to get everyone involved is by turning it into a game such as a treasure hunt. Here are a few ideas for getting started:
Let your children pretend to be pirates. Mom and Dad can be ship captains.
Crumple a brown paper bag and write on it all the supplies an emergency kit should have. This is the "treasure map" the kids will use.
Mom and Dad should collect the various safety supplies and hide them around the house. This may require extending the game over a period of a few days. Items to be "discovered" can include:
- First-aid kit
- Battery-operated radio or TV
- Bottled water
- Cash or credit cards
- Canned food
- Waterproof bags/containers
- Sleeping bags
- Personal hygiene items (soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.)
- Games and books
Assign each item a point value. The pirate or pirate team that earns the most points or finds the most supplies listed on the treasure map wins a prize. Prizes could involve having the losing team make ice cream sundaes for the winners.
Once you've assembled the kit, hold a family meeting. This is when you should discuss a plan of action in case of an emergency. For example, go over what to do in the event of a house fire. Show your children multiple ways of exiting the home. Agree on a meeting place outside if everyone has to flee the house. This safe place could be a neighbor's home or the front yard.
You may need to make a chart for young children to help them understand where to go and how to know whether they should stay in the house or evacuate.
At the family meeting, tell your children what to do in case there are no adults around. Have a list of emergency phone numbers that include relatives and trusted friends. Be sure to include 911.
Talking to your children about what to do in an emergency is a good start. Practicing what to do is even better.
Once every month or so, practice your emergency plan. Use different sounds to alert the family about the type of emergency that's occurring. For example, a whistle means fire drill and a drum means tornado or weather-related drill.
Watch how your family responds. After the drill, have a family meeting to discuss how everyone remembered and performed the family's emergency action plan.