Our group, West Seattle Be Prepared is often invited to give presentations to other local groups; recently, we were asked to talk about preparedness for kids. Thought that some of that information would be great to post here as well!
Do you know how to prepare for the most likely hazards (earthquakes, winter storms, power outages, flooding)? Have you considered how you might communicate some filtered information about this to your kids so that they aren’t blindsided if something unexpected happens?
LEARN! With any new or unfamiliar topic, we find it helpful to do some research. When we built the Resources section of our West Seattle Be Prepared website, we looked around in our community and elsewhere to see what the experts were saying and recommending. You’ll find the results on the Official Planning Resources page of our website. This page includes lots of ideas as well as useful checklists!
PLAN! After mulling over the information we found, we began to customize plans and checklists to fit our own individual and household needs. We developed an emergency communication plan, as well as plans for storing supplies (useful for sheltering in place) and creating portable Go Kits (useful if you need to evacuate or leave your home for awhile).
With emergency preparedness, all of us need to consider how prepare as individuals, as families and households, and most importantly take into consideration all those who depend on us. That may include pets, extended family, neighbors, friends and others who can’t prepare on their own. Visit the Individual Household Resources and the Planning Tips pages of our website to see what we came up with. Bear in mind:
- How will you communicate during a disaster? If local phone lines are overloaded or down, it may still be possible to text or call someone outside this area. One of the most important planning steps is choosing an out-of-area contact: someone outside of the disaster zone that you and each of your family members can contact if you can’t directly reach each other. It’s important to have this information printed or written down (not only online) because during stressful times, people tend to forget phone numbers and other details.
- Neighbors may become your First Responders: HELP/OK signs to put in a window that can signal your neighbors can be very important, so that after a disaster everyone can focus first on those who truly need help. These HELP/OK signs are also useful to have in your vehicle!
TAKE ACTION! After research, planning, and deciding how you will communicate – all steps that are primarily parent or adult-focused, a next logical step is collecting emergency supplies. This is situational and very specific to individual needs (glasses?, medications?, family photo?, favorite toy?), so a great point at which to involve kids. Start with the things that are “Must Haves”, but make sure you don’t neglect what is most important to you. You’ll find more details on our Tips for Collecting Supplies page.
- If you prepare with others, you can save money and avoid redundant preparations, and learn from each other. You can buy batteries, handwarmers, lightsticks and other preparedness items in bulk and share them. You’ll find more information about neighborhood preparedness throughout the Resources section of our site.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCES: Following are some of the best materials for, about and regarding children.
Sesame Street “Let’s Get Ready” - Great info, tools and videos for kids about how to prepare for emergencies.
Quakesafe_Coloring_Book - Coloring book about earthquake preparedness for younger children from JoAnn Jordan at the Seattle Office of Emergency Management.
USGS information for kids - Includes puzzles, games, animations and other information!
King County E911 program – Useful materials for children including stickers and coloring books about how to call 9-1-1, featuring “Emery, the Emergency Penguin” (here’s the Downloadable version).
http://cardcanhelp.org/images/Parents.pdf - This is a very good general resource for parents from CARD, a California-based organization that focuses on disaster preparedness for children and other vulnerable populations.
These are highlights, so do check out the rest of our site for additional materials! Let us know if you know of other helpful resources that we should include! Our contact info is here.
P.S. West Seattle Be Prepared members often do outreach at upcoming community events. Check out our event calendar for details, then stop by our booth/table to pick up printed copies of the items mentioned above. We usually have an assortment of coloring books, as well as stickers for kids; and, you (grown-ups) can pick up out-of-area contact wallet cards, HELP/OK signs and emergency communication hub maps!