Practicing My Emergency Plan

Preparing your family for a disaster involves more than just creating a plan. Each family member—especially children—needs to know exactly what to do during an emergency. Here are some helpful suggestions to communicate the importance of disaster preparedness to your family.

Designate Roles. Give everyone in your family a responsibility. Allow them to feel as if they are an integral part in the plan and that they each have an important contribution to make.

Role-play. Younger family members are easily upset when they see a parent worried or panicking. Spend an afternoon pretending that an emergency has happened and allow everyone to practice their designated roles. This will help your family be better prepared for the rush of emotions that come during a disaster.

Visit Emergency Meeting Places. If you have chosen an emergency meeting place out-of-state, make certain your family is familiar with it. Help them recognize landmarks (i.e. buildings, signs, curiously shaped trees or other landmarks, etc.) that will remind them of where they are or where they should be going.

Introduce Your Family to Emergency Contacts. Young children may not be comfortable talking with strangers—even strangers that Mom and Dad designate as being safe. Introduce your children to your contacts, so they develop a level of comfort. It’s also a good idea to have children learn to recognize safe authority figures (i.e. firemen, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, etc.).

Quiz Your Family. Regularly quiz your family on your emergency preparedness plan. You can easily disguise preparedness as a game for younger children. Who’s our local emergency contact? Where do we go when there’s an emergency? Who’s responsible for watching the dog?

Point Out Emergency Essentials. Be sure everybody in your family knows where your emergency essentials are located. Keep your emergency kit in one place—if you move it, let everybody know. This will help cut down on confusion during an emergency.

Be Honest. Everyone in your family will have questions about preparedness. Take the time to address questions, concerns and fears. Everyone will feel better if they know they are being dealt with honestly and are able to play a part in getting the family through the crisis.