Emergency Preparedness Month: Teach your kids about safety
Sep 20, 2020 07:59AM
Carefully go over your family emergency plan and teach them how to stay safe whatever the disaster.
Complete the following with your family so severe weather doesn't catch you off guard:
- Create an emergency supplies kit. Include a three-day supply of water, nonperishable food, flashlights, blankets and kid-friendly activities. The Red Cross provides a listing of emergency supplies to help you prepare.
- Practice your emergency plan. Include two evacuation routes, a safe room and two different meet-up locations — and make sure kids can run through it calmly.
- Run through the basics. Kids should know how to call 911, identify themselves, identify their location, reach emergency contacts and get to predetermined safe locations.
Teach your kids about the different natural disasters and how to react in each.
- Tornado. If you are in the path of a tornado, go into a tornado safe place. This is typically the lowest level of the building and stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. If you are outside with no car or nearby shelter, lie down in a ditch and protect your head.
- Severe thunderstorm. If you have advanced notice that a severe storm is heading your way there are ways to be more prepared. If a storm is sudden, go indoors if you see lightning or hear thunder, and don't use items that plug into electrical outlets. Avoid using running water, as faucets can conduct electricity.
- Earthquake. Practice the "Drop, Cover and Hold On" method, and learn to recognize safe places in each room at home and at school.
- Hurricane. When you know a hurricane is expected, prepare your home for the possibility of impact. During the storm stay away from glass windows and doors, and be ready to follow hurricane evacuation instructions from emergency officials if necessary.
- Flooding. Don't go into flooded areas. Just six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet, and standing floodwater could be contaminated or contain sharp objects. If your car is affected in the storm, assess the damage.
Also, being prepared with a Home Inventory might be helpful if you need to file an insurance claim in the case of lost or damaged possessions, help secure a settlement, and prove useful when verifying property loss for taxes.
Stop, drop and roll is only the beginning of fire safety. Talking about and practicing home fire safety with your children can help prevent fires and keep everyone safe.
If a fire strikes in your home, you won't have much time to react. Prepare now so you can act quickly in an emergency. Getting out and making sure everyone is safe is the crux of a fire evacuation plan. It doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, simpler is better and fast is key. Follow these steps and practice it during fire drills so you can act immediately if there's a fire in your home.
Preparing your family with safe escape routes and instructions can be a lifesaver in the case of an emergency.
- Sketch a map of your house.
- Familiarize your children with the map by pointing out where each room in the house is. Pasting a photo of each family member inside his or her respective bedroom on the map may help younger children.
- Draw two escape routes from each room — one out a door, one out a window (in case the primary route is blocked).
- Designate a meeting spot a safe distance from the house, such as the mailbox.
- Post the evacuation plan on the refrigerator or a bulletin board to keep it fresh in your family's mind.
A fire drill every few months will get children interested with the change in routine, and keep adults in practice as well. Practice exactly as you'd do it in real time. Define, step-by-step, what you expect your children to do.
- Start the fire safety training drill by sounding a smoke alarm, so children can recognize the beep as an early warning to fire.
- Leave everything behind and follow the escape route. They should never attempt to pick up toys and personal possessions, or look for their parents, siblings or pets. Sticking to the evacuation plan to get out safely is most important.
- Teach them to stay low to the floor, moving on their hands and knees, if there is smoke in their room. To avoid inhalation, instruct them to cover their face with a pillowcase or shirt.
- Show them how to crawl over to their bedroom door and touch the doorknob first. If it's not hot, they should proceed out the door and exit the house to the safe meeting place outside. If it's hot, they should go to their window and wave a shirt.
- Stop, drop and roll. Practice this important safety move so you can help prevent serious burns if your clothes are on fire.
- Repeat the plan until they have mastered it. With enough drills, you can avoid panic and confusion if a real fire strikes the home.
Talk about next steps, like calling 911. After you have gotten to your meeting space, talk to your children about calling 911. Children old enough to understand the phone should know how to call at the first sign of an emergency. But remember, kids can sometimes think it's funny to prank call 911, so stress to them that it is against the law and carries consequences.
You've equipped your home with all the necessary precautions for a fire, but smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers aren't enough to keep everyone prepared. Equip your family with fire safety knowledge by teaching them about fire hazards in the home and how to react if a fire sparks in the home.
- Kitchen dangers: Most of the fire hazards in the home are in the kitchen. The most important lesson for young children to learn in the kitchen is that the stove is hot, and they should keep away from it when it's in use. When your children are older and ready to begin cooking for themselves, then you can instruct them further on individual appliance safety and extinguishing cooking fires.
- Matches and lighters: Playing with matches is another major source of home fires. Children as young as two-years-old can strike matches and start fires, so be sure to keep matches and lighters safely tucked away in locked drawers. Teach children not to pick up matches or lighters they may find, but to tell an adult about them immediately.
- Aerosol cans: These can explode if placed near stoves, radiators or other sources of heat.
- Candles: Candles can start fires if placed near flammable materials, and their hot wax can burn skin. Never let children light candles or leave a child unattended with a lit candle. Get in the habit of blowing out any candles before leaving a room.
- Electrical cords: Fraying cords can ignite a fire, so show children how to recognize them.
- Lamps: Explain that paper or cloth over a lamp can start a fire.
- Irons: Warn children to stay away from an iron standing on end.
- Christmas trees: Live Christmas trees can dry out and become highly flammable.