During a disaster, your family may have to leave your home and depart from your daily routine. Children may become anxious, confused or frightened. It is important to give children guidance that will help them reduce their fears.
Let children own their feelings – if they feel sad or worried, then they are sad or worried. Instead of trying to tell children that they shouldn’t feel that way after a disaster, help them learn how to cope with troubling feelings.
Share with them some of your reactions and feelings and how you coped with them (such as talking with others, writing about your feelings or doing something positive to help others).
If you have school-aged children, check with their teacher or principal to learn about planning for emergencies, including reunification procedures. Reunification may involve meeting at a different location than the school, as well as following an unfamiliar process that involves additional steps or different staff members. Remember, it is all designed to protect students and reduce chaos for first responders.
Inform your kids about who will pick them up from school or child care if you cannot get there right away. Know your evacuation routes as well as alternate routes. If possible, find a friend’s or relative’s place that is far away (hundreds of miles) where you and your family could stay. Print directions to this location and keep these in your car and in your disaster kit.
Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to think about the following situations and plan just in case.
Discuss family/household plans for disasters that may affect your area and plan where to go. Plan together in advance so that everyone in the household understands where to go during a different type of disaster such as a flood, tornado, or wildfire.
Make sure everyone knows the address of the meeting place and discuss ways you would get there.
Share information with other family members, friends and neighbors who don’t live with you so that they know your plans, and you know theirs.
Make sure everyone carries a copy of the plan in his or her backpack, purse or wallet. You should also post a copy in a central location in your home, such as your refrigerator or family bulletin board.
Practice your plan. Have regular household meetings to review your emergency plans, communication plans, evacuation plan and meeting place after a disaster, and then practice, just like you would a fire drill.