Talking to children about disasters can be difficult, but doing so can help reduce anxiety and help them feel prepared. Disasters can impact anyone, including kids. Your emergency kit, plan, and practice should include all members of your family. Visit ready.gov/kids to find games, age-appropriate information, and tips on personal safety and disaster preparedness for kids, teens, and families!
Tips for preparing for disasters and emergencies with children:
Prepare together! When gathering your emergency kit, keep the needs of younger family members in mind.
- Include food, snacks, and drinks that they enjoy and will eat. Include any special or dietary needs, baby food, supplements, formula, etc.
- Hygiene supplies, wet wipes, stocked diaper bag, change of clothes (swap out clothing in your emergency kit every 6 months to make sure they still fit)!
- Comfort items- Pillow, blanket, stuffed animal, activity books, colored pencils, small toys or board games, things that pass time and don’t require a power source.
- Contact Sheet- Have a printout of important contacts, parents, family members, babysitter, daycare, school, pediatrician, poison control, godparents, out of town contacts, etc. If the child is old enough, show them how to use it!
- ID or recent photos for all family members.
If the child is old enough to carry a backpack, you can help them make their own ‘emergency kit’ it does not to have all elements of an adult emergency kit but should include items that can help keep them comfortable and give them a sense of security. (Snacks, comfort items, a lighting source like flashlight or lantern, contact sheet, etc.)
Plan together! Keep the plans simple, and practice often.
- Where does your family spend their time? Home, daycare, school, store, park? How would you and your family respond if an emergency occurred at any of these locations? Many emergencies require evacuating or sheltering in place. For all of the places you spend time, plan where you would go, what you would do, and how you would do it.
- School-age children will likely be familiar with fire, tornado, or active-shooter drills, so this is a good place to start a conversation about emergencies in other locations.
- Example: In case of a home fire, children will meet across the street by the neighbors mailbox. Teens and adults will grab pets and emergency kit.
- In case of severe weather, family will meet in basement, or lowest level of a building away from windows.
- If you have children in school, have a backup plan in case you are unable to pick them up, and make sure the school has all necessary plans and contacts.
- Designate several emergency meeting places.
- In your home.
- Outside of your home (within neighborhood)
- Outside of your neighborhood.
- Outside of your town. Make sure all family members know these locations and know how they will get there (will walk there, ride bikes, get a ride from Aunt Becky, etc.)
Turn preparedness into a game!
- Have a treasure hunt to find emergency kit items and safety features in your home. Nearest exits, smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, etc.
- Practice taking a new route to any of the places you go, it will help familiarize you to the area and find alternate routes in case any roads are blocked.
- Have a fire drill for your home. Explain the signs of a home fire, smoke, flames, smoke alarm (test your smoke alarm, so all family members know what it sounds like) and what to do if they see or hear these signs.
- Practice a power outage.
- Use and replace your emergency supplies.
- Take an afternoon to practice your evacuation plan. Have family members grab their supplies and go to one of your designated emergency locations. You can have an outdoor lunch with the food and snacks in your emergency kit. This will help your family be familiar with their emergency kit, how to use it, and how often items should be used and replaced.