Disaster readiness might appear a difficult topic to discuss
with your children, but it is essential for their safety. Your
children will appreciate a direct, honest manner. Tell them about
your emergency plan, so that they can face an emergency situation
in a calm, more capable manner.
Make certain that children are familiar with your plan, for each
type of emergency you're likely to experience in your area. Key
elements of any school or home emergency plan should include: what
to do, where to meet, who to call, and how to communicate.
You can't assume that an adult will be present during an
emergency situation. By including your children in emergency
planning they will know what choices to make and what you expect of
them. Children should be taught exactly where to go, what to do,
and how to communicate during a crisis.
Emergency plans should be reviewed with children on a regular
basis (every few months) to make sure that they don't forget
important information, or get confused when stressed.
Teach your children how to ring Triple 000 in a
life threatening emergency or when parents are incapacitated.
Teaching your children how to cope in an emergency and how to dial
Triple 000 could save a life, even their own.
A useful online resource is the Triple Zero kids' challenge, a
game designed for children of kindergarten and primary school age
that covers nine safety scenarios. The estimated game-play time is
one hour, but can be played in shorter intervals.
Ask your children for their input when you create your Household Emergency
Plan, so that they remember it more clearly when the
time comes to implement the plan. Make sure children know where
your Emergency Kit and Evacuation Kit are stored.
Ask your kids questions such as:
- Where in town is a good place for us to meet if there is ever a
- Do you know how to get there by yourself?
- Who is out-of-town or local person to call if we cannot find
- Where do you have their phone numbers written down?
- Do you know the emergency number (000) and when to call
Use kids' resources to teach your children about
Educate your children about disasters, without overly alarming
them. Be honest! Tell them that a disaster is something that
happens that could hurt people, cause damage, or cut off things
such as electricity, water and telephones. Explain to them that
nature sometimes provides too much rain or sunshine, which might
become floods, storms, or bushfires.
- Talk about the things that the children will be most aware of,
such as loss of power or no water. Use online education programs on
natural hazards with them and explain that is what can happen and
discuss with them their impressions.
- Provide some examples of local hazards and talk about the best
way to respond. Then, ask them questions to assess their level of
understanding. Help children recognise the warning signs of the
disaster that could affect your community. Talking about disaster,
with them, ahead of time will reduce the fear and anxiety when an
event does occur and lets them know how to respond.
- Teach your children how to dial Triple 000 in a life
threatening emergency, or when parents are incapacitated.
- Have your children undertake a first aid or CPR course.
- Tell children about the many people who will help them during a
disaster. Explain the roles of the various emergency services and
support agencies so that your children can identify them and won't
be scared if they arrive on your doorstep.
- Teach your children about your Emergency Plan and two contacts
- nearby and out-of-town - in case they become separated during a
disaster event. Give them a card listing your household emergency
contacts they can take with them to school or wherever they
Identify comfort items that would help your children to
During times of stress, children love to have their favourite
dummy, cuddly toy, or security blanket with them for comfort; so
don't forget those. Small toys or games will provide entertainment
and keep kids calm, during a stressful time.
If your child has a chronic illness or special needs, there are
several steps that you can take to better prepare for medical
Learn about how your children might respond to an
How we react to an emergency is very personal. What feels scary
to someone else might not feel scary to you. Seeing a parent or
parents in distress can set off a crisis for a child, so try to
remain focused and calm. Children learn about life from their
parents and other adults, so how you deal with an emergency affects
how your children handle their lives.
Your role is to help children understand that bad things do
happen, but that how we deal with them is what counts. Reassure
your child, and remember that actions speak louder than words.Hold
your child if that usually makes her feel safer. Some children,
particularly older ones, might not want to be touched, so follow
their cue. Just be there. Acknowledge the loss or destruction, but
emphasise the community's efforts to cleanup and rebuild.
Image Courtesy of Nadia Sunde | Kids Music | Family Music |