How to Prepare Your Children for a Natural Disaster

Children need to understand what’s expected of them in the event of a sudden disaster from a hurricane, tornado, tsunami, or severe storms.

Depending on a child’s age, he or she might know what natural disasters are and that they can injure people.

There are various resources particularly helpful in educating children on how to handle an emergency situation in the event of a natural disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a parent- and kid-friendly website with information on each disaster’s cause.

Communicate a Plan

Gather you kids together and explain the importance of preparation. Elaborate on what natural disasters you’re most at risk for, how to prepare for them, and how to respond in the crisis. Create an evacuation plan that includes two outside meeting places in case your family members are separated.

One of those areas should be right outside your home, possibly near the mailbox. The other should be outside your neighborhood — maybe at the library or in front of the police station if you can’t get back home.

You also need a shelter-in-place plan. Choose a room with the least windows and doors to serve as the safe room.
Communication is key. Have a list of emergency services numbers and the cell phone, school, and work numbers for all household members easily accessible. It’s also a good idea to use FEMA’s downloadable Family Emergency Plan as a reference.

Other factors during emergency planning can be the care of pets, how to turn off utilities, and the disaster plans of your child’s school and your workplace.

Preparing for Disaster

Include your child in the gathering of supplies, food, and gear in the event of natural disaster preparedness. This helps them feel good about participating in helping to protect the family. Adding in your child’s favorite snacks, books, or other small hobbies he or she enjoys will make an emergency a little easier to get through.

Have Disaster Drills

Have disaster drills at home like kids have fire drills at school. Show the kids the drill then have them participate. Depending on which drill you’re practicing, instill in your kids how to warn others of the danger, how to escape from the home, where to meet after escaping, where to “shelter” inside the home, how to contact emergency personnel, and procedures to follow after the disaster. Practice drills on a regular basis then aim to increase speed and urgency once they’re mastered.

There are quite a few ways for you to involve your children in your emergency preparations. Put forth the effort to make planning fun and interesting, and they’ll be more ready to act when time is short.