Did you know that September is national preparedness month? Preparedness is something I think everyone hears being preached but may not necessarily follow until it’s too late. In the LDS Church, we are constantly being told to prepare our homes and families for disaster by having at least three months of food storage and prepared 72 hour kits, among other things. Whenever I see a disaster happen, or even the lights go out for a few hours, I can’t help but wonder if we are prepared enough.
While there are plenty of general tips for preparedness that are applicable for people from 0 to 100, I think it’s important to think about your particular circumstances to customize your preparedness. At this stage in our life, we have a small child to think about and that does change how we’ve prepared. In the spirit of the month, I thought I’d share a few preparedness tips for those of you who have children (or grandchildren) in your home.
1. Cards with Children’s Information
In a disaster or emergency situation, I think most parents pray that they would be with their families. However, this isn’t always going to be the case. Bad things happen when children are in school, at a friends house, or playing outside. Or, in the craziness of a disaster, you could be separated. Having some kind of card with your child’s information on it can help reunite you faster. It can be something you put in your child’s backpack, wallet, or even sew into the bottom of their shoe! Here are a few items you’ll want your child to have with them whenever they aren’t with you:
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Parent’s Phone Numbers
2. Birth Certificates
I can’t think of many situations where a disaster would be bad enough that you would have to fly on an airplane, but if a situation did warrant that, and you have a child under the age of two, you will need their birth certificate to fly. I would get a certified copy of your child’s birth certificate, laminate it, and then place it in one of your 72 hour kits.
3. Consider Specific Needs
Children often have unique needs which need to be considered when creating a preparedness plan or a 72 hour kit. Perhaps your child has severe allergies — make sure to have an EPI pen readily available. If your child has allergies, stock your kits with foods they can eat.
Obviously if you have a baby or un-potty trained toddler, you’ll want to have a supply of diapers in your 72 hour kits. I personally would hate to be faced with a situation where we couldn’t get diapers! Depending on the child’s age, have between 4 and 10 diapers per day. Rather than having a variety of sizes, just update your kit as your child’s diaper size changes, so you don’t have a ton of diapers in the wrong size. I would also have 1-2 packages of wipes.
You know your child and what their needs are, so just be sure to keep those in mind when creating 72 hour kits.
While emergency situations can be upsetting for everything, children can be especially disturbed. Even if you can’t really prep a baby for a disaster, practicing with older children what to do is crucial. Take time to come up with a “safe spot” outside your home, practice escaping from your home if there is a fire or earthquake, and just teach your children about different things that could happen. This can be frightening for children to talk about, so make sure you ease their fears by letting them know these things probably won’t happen.
5. Prepare them if they are away from home
As I already mentioned, not all emergency situations will happen when your child is at home. Whether they are with you are not, make sure they know what to do in an emergency when they aren’t home. Help them memorize your phone number,
6. Kid friendly activities
Even if just your power goes out, it doesn’t take long for everyone to get a little antsy. Children get bored very easily — especially when confined to a specific place — so having activities to occupy and entertain them is very important.
I would avoid preparing any activities that would require electricity, since, in many emergenices, you won’t have much access to electricity! Stocking up on crayons and coloring books is a great place to start. Here are a few websites with ideas:
7. Kid Friendly Foods
Some picky eaters may eat whatever’s available if there is nothing else around, but I know a few picky eaters who would rather starve than eat something unappealing. While I’m usually an advocate of eating what’s in front of you and not throwing a fit, when there’s an emergency, I think it’s important to make sure there are foods your kids absolutely will eat. Granola bars, fruit snacks, dehydrated fruits, cans of ravioli…whatever! Just make sure there is something in your child’s 72 hour kit that will sustain them.
8. Prepare Yourselves
Children are creatures of habit and any disruption in their schedule can be upsetting, especially if everyone else is panicking. I know when something starts to get differently than planned, Jack immediately looks to Forrest or I for guidance. In an emergency, I wouldn’t expect anything different. By making sure you are prepared (both physically and mentally) for an emergency, you are better prepared to help your children get through it as well. If everyone is panicking, trying to gather together clothes, food, and water, and just have no plan whatsoever, children are definitely going to have a much harder time!
These are all pretty basic tips, but here are a few great websites that help you prepare your children and yourself even more if disaster strikes:
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