Talk to the Children about Preparing for Disasters
September is National Preparedness Month
“Be prepared” is a good idea for everyone, not just Scouts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sponsored the theme for the month to remind people to plan for the unexpected.
National Preparedness Month is a reminder that it’s a good idea to have a plan just in case a disaster happens.
Don’t Hide Preparation from the Kids
Some of us at SERVPRO® of San Diego City SW believe that we might need to protect the children from knowing certain things. All of us believe that we should protect ourselves from the children knowing certain things (see “hiding place for the good cookies”). What to hide (maybe):
- Housing costs
- The tooth fairy’s day job
- Where the adults hide the good cookies
- The number of times parents talked back to their own parents
- Scary movies adults watch after the little ones are asleep
- Worries over political changes in Eastern Europe
Emergency plans are not things to hide. Even if the idea of having to leave the house in an emergency is scary, children need to know:
- If something scary happens, the parents have a plan to get everyone out safely
- What to do when an emergency does happen
- They can face their fears
School-age children are already used to fire drills and other safety measures. Let them know that home escape plans are like those at school.
Talking with the Children
Use age-appropriate language and topics
If you have children far apart in age, it might be easiest to talk to them separately. You describe things differently to young teenagers than to preschoolers.
Plan the discussions
Set aside a time when the children aren’t distracted by a game or waiting for dinner.
Know what topics you want to cover. Children are talented at finding ways to get parents off-topic.
Use visual aids
Children, like adults, get bored during audio-only presentations. Have a simplified house plan available so children can plan a route from one room to the outside. Younger children might want to draw out the escape plans themselves. Videos or smartphone apps are other ways to keep attention.
Expect follow-up questions
Even if children don’t have questions during or right after the talk, they may have questions later. Sometimes they’ll ask the same questions over and over, such as “will there be a fire?” Reassure them that a fire is unlikely, but it’s important to be prepared.
Check for understanding. Both children and adults may think they understand a plan, but not be able to explain it.
SERVPRO of San Diego City SW
Our emergency services are available 24 hours/day, every day of the year. Call us at 619-269-5004 to find out what we can do for you.