How to Train Your Kids to Know What to Do in a Home Emergency
By Lizzie Weakley
When an emergency impacts your home, everyone should know what to do. Since parents can be incapacitated during a crisis, children also need to be prepared to take the right steps. Here are some things every family should do to be ready if the unexpected should occur.
Have an Emergency Plan
Write and discuss a basic emergency plan for the family to follow if something bad happens. Whether a weather catastrophe or if a parent becomes ill or unresponsive, kids should know what to do and how to get help. The emergency plan should list the critical events that could require immediate action. Each one should be explained in terms the kids can understand. For example, if high winds develop or a tornado warning sounds, everyone should head to the basement or a secure inner room. If someone collapses or becomes unconscious, the kids should know how to dial 9-1-1 as well as how to unlock the security code on a parent’s smartphone. The plan should be posted or kept where the kids can reach it.
Demonstrate the Correct Response
Kids often learn by doing rather than just listening. Show them how to use a mechanical fire escape ladder by latching it to a window ledge and climbing down to safety. Keep the ladder near their bedrooms for ready access. Show them where your phone is usually kept, so they can get to it quickly if needed. Go through the motions of escaping from a predator animal or stinging insects that threaten them in the yard.
Teach Kids about Home Safety
Inform the children about common home safety issues that may require emergency attention. For example, a basement flooding problem may require professional plumbing assistance. Significant smoke from the stove or fireplace should cause the smoke alarms to sound if the batteries are still active, but also teach kids to call 9-1-1 for firefighter assistance. Explain what to do if someone is trying to break in through a window or door, which is to, again, call 9-1-1.
Update the Plan as Needed
If you move to a new house, or if your current living conditions change, adjust the plan to include new potential hazards. For example, if a smoker lives in the home, there is an increased risk of a house fire. Keeping exotic pets that are venomous might require an emergency doctor visit. Have these important telephone numbers posted on the fridge or another prominent place where kids can find them quickly.
Keep your children up to date on the home’s emergency plan. The more they know, the better prepared they will be to respond quickly to an emergency.
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