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Moms Talk: Emergency Preparedness for Kids

How do you prepare your kids to react appropriately in emergency situations?

Tornado season is upon us in Minnesota. Maybe your family already has had to camp out in the basement during a tornado warning. But when you take the weather radio and flashlights downstairs, do your kids know what's going on? What would they do if you weren't there with them?

Storms and tornadoes are just one of the plethora of emergency situations kids can face. What if, for example, an adult has a medical emergency and the child is the only other person around?

Some organizations, like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have programs geared toward teaching kids about being safe in emergencies; FEMA's provides different web pages and quizzes, which ask questions from whether it's OK to drink flood water, to whether it's best to stay low to the ground during a fire.

What do you do to prepare your kids for a situation that might require a quick—and often very adult—reaction? How old do kids need to be to start preparing to be safe during a tornado, a fire or a medical emergency, and has it ever been difficult for you to get the message across?

Our five-member Moms Council—including, , and —is ready to weigh in on the discussion this week and encourage you to share your thoughts as well.

Post your thoughts, advice or questions in the comments section below. Also, if you live in the area and are interested in joining our Moms Council, e-mail Editor David Henke at david.henke@patch.com.

Jodi Saari June 06, 2011 at 06:49 PM
Around Christmas time, my daughter went through a safety unit at her daycare. They talked a lot about fires in your house. As part of the lesson, we drew an escape route for her of where she would run if there was a fire in our house. She is used to fire drills at school, and has gone through one that wasn't a drill (ended up not being a fire either). So she understands the concept of what you would do. It also helps that we are close to our neighbors and she knows she should go right to their house. As for storm, she has gotten used to hearing the sirens when severe weather approaches Apple Valley. We are trying to instill in her that she doesn't have to be scared, but needs to pay attention. She knows to go inside if it is lightening, but I think we have only headed to the basement once in her life. It helps that her father and I love storms. The most important thing we have been working on with her is to know our address and phone number. With so many people on cell phones these days, there is no guarantee that emergency services will automatically know where you are when you call. So for a four-year-old, this is where we are focusing on now.
Kathee June 07, 2011 at 02:20 AM
When my 2 youngest kids were little, I took 4x4 pieces of cardstock (Yes - I scrapbook. Surprise!) and put together their very OWN "Phone" Book. The 1st page had our names, home address and home telephone number. The second page, I put a picture of a police car, a fire truck and ambulance & 911. We discussed calling 911, giving our information and what an "emergency" was to them. The 3rd page was a picture of me, a picture of a cell phone with my cell phone number and a picture of my work next to my work number. I added their Dad & his pictures with phone/cell/work numbers. I continued with each page dedicated to a close family member and how to reach them. We even added their friends they hung out with. We kept the book next to the phone. If I wanted to call someone in their book, I had them look the number up and call the person. If the kids went to stay at a family members home, I sent the book with them. Now that the kids are older, they know mine and my ex-husbands phone numbers by heart. Last fall they went to a Gopher game at the NEW stadium with the Grandparents. I gave each of my kids a card to carry with them that had their seat information and cell phone numbers of my father & his wife. I instructed the kids AND Grandparents on the RULES of Seperation. Rule #1: Do NOT Panic! Take out your card. Rule #2: Stop and look. Water fountain? Food? Rule #3: Find Security and be escorted back to your seat. Rule #4: STAY PUT! Everyone will return.
Niki Seabright June 07, 2011 at 05:54 PM
We are very honest with our children about emergencies. We let our children know the truth and we don't shelter them when it comes to real-life situations. We practice fire escape plans including crawling and staying low, pulling out our window ladder if need be and going over again and again where we meet when we get outside. We also talk about tornadoes and go to our basement crawl space. I think it's important to explain all of this to children as soon as they're able to understand. It may be scary but it could save a life.

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