Involve children in creating emergency plan


Involve your children when creating your emergency plan, including protecting pets

Children (0-18 years of age) are highly vulnerable during natural disasters. Under normal circumstances, their parents, guardians, teachers, or primary caregivers supervise children. After a disaster, all or some of these important relationships might suddenly collapse.

Single parents with more than one child are stretched between caring for the immediate and long-term needs of their family. The physical and psychological trauma sustained by children can far outweigh the same effects on adults, and counselling might be needed.

If children are in your care, it is important that you:

  • Supervise them
  • Provide a secure and safe environment
  • Make sure all possible safety precautions are taken
  • Have first aid equipment available; and
  • Know what to do in an emergency situation.


To learn more about first aid, you can attend classes at locations throughout Queensland, and courses can be tailored to your specific needs. First aid certificates should be renewed every three years.

Show children how to practice squatting low to the ground to be the smallest target possible for lightening in case they get caught outside during a thunderstorm. Show them how to place their hands on their knees with their head between the knees.

Include children and young people when making rules or guidelines about their safety and wellbeing, during and after severe weather. People are more likely to follow rules they have helped to make. Keep your plans simple and clear so everyone understands them.

Give good reasons for each rule. People are more likely to follow rules that have good reasons. For example, explain that high winds bring down trees and power lines and explain the potential dangers of electrocution.

Having to leave a treasured pet behind during an evacuation can cause terrible anguish for everyone, but especially kids. Prepare your children well and explain when and why pets might have to stay behind. Allow them to say goodbye and reassure them the family will be reunited once the event has passed.

Have just a few rules and stick to them. Too many rules can be confusing. Be clear about what will happen if people do or do not follow a rule. Teach their children skills and strategies to identify, avoid or respond to risky or harmful situations.

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 to make sure that they don't forget important information, or get confused when stressed.

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 crisis?
  • Do you know how to get there by yourself?
  • Who is out-of-town or local person to call if we cannot find each other?
  • Where do you have their phone numbers written down?
  • Do you know the emergency number (000) and when to call that?


Children need to be told about different disasters that could affect them and they need to feel safe. Try to be supportive and reassuring and listen to their questions.

Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do, meeting places, phone numbers, and safety rules.

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 emergencies. The most important is the preparation of an emergency treatment plan. Other steps include:

  • Registering your information with your state emergency communications centre
  • Arranging for your family, neighbour and child's teachers to receive basic emergency training
  • Preparing an overnight bag with their essential support items to take to hospital or elsewhere
  • Meeting with your local SES team to discuss and share your plan with them


Consider possible scenarios, problems and solutions and make sure your family and friends understand the challenges that concern you so that they can provide help and support, if needed. Most people won't hesitate to help, so long as they understand what's expected of them.