Emergency Preparedness for Children

Helping Kids Prepare for Emergencies

  • Teach them about natural hazards like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, ice storms, and blizzards – and what to do when they occur.
  • Make a family emergency plan, and prepare an emergency kit together.
  • Teach your kids what to do in case of a fire. 
  • Make sure your kids know what to do at school if an emergency happens.

Helping Kids Cope

  • Children, in particular, can feel the stress deeply- and may react in different ways. The key to helping your children cope is simply by being there and making them feel safe.
  • Take their fears seriously and tell them that it’s okay to be scared.
  • Explain the events as best you can and acknowledge what’s frightening about what happened. 
  • Tell your kids what you think and feel. Doing so helps them feel less alone if they know that their feelings are similar to yours. 
  • Maintain familiar routines, like mealtimes and regular bedtime hours. 
  • While parents can play a huge role in helping children deal with anxiety, it may be helpful to talk to a professional such as a psychologist or social worker, who can help children understand and cope with their emotions.

Did you Know?

Younger children may cry, whine or wet the bed in emergency situations. Older children may experience an intense fear of injury or separation anxiety. Other common reactions include a fear of the dark, physical pain and eating or sleeping problems. 

Teach your children how to use 9-1-1

Teaching your children how to use 9-1-1 is crucial and could save their lives or yours. Here are four simple steps for teaching your children, no matter how old they are, how to use 9-1-1.

  1. First, explain what 9-1-1 is.
  2. Teach them to assess the risks before dialing 9-1-1.
  3. Explain what types of information to give once they have called 9-1-1.
  4. Practice scenarios with them to make them more familiar with the concept without frightening them.

How to prepare for a wide range of emergencies.

Tips to help your children with emergency situations

  1. Emergency Signals: Point out emergency signs and signals. Hear the siren or see the flashlights of an ambulance, a fire truck, or a police car. They mean that help is on the way!
  2. What is an Emergency?: Talk with your child about emergencies in a calm way. You could explain, “An emergency is when something happens that we do not expect and we have to act quickly to keep ourselves safe.”
  3. Whole names: Help your child learn their whole name and the whole names of their caregivers. If you and your child ever get separated, they can share these names with trusted adults to reach you.
  4. Phone and Address: Helping your child learn your phone number and address can help reunite your family quickly in an emergency. 
  5. Special Helpers: Help your child learn about the people who help keep you safe, like firefighters, police officers, doctors, and emergency responders so they are more comfortable with them in an emergency. 
  6. Creating a Kit: Create a family emergency kit. Reuse an old box or bag and let your child decorate it with drawings or stickers. Let your child put some of the items into the kit. 
  7. Emergency Contacts: Choose two emergency contacts. An out-of-town emergency contact can make sure you’re all okay. A local emergency contact can help you with tasks such as picking up your child from child care. 
  8. Our Meeting Place: Select an emergency meeting place. This is the safe place where your family will meet if you cannot get home during an emergency. 

A Child Who Feels Afraid Is Afraid
Your child may experience the emergency as being bigger than it actually is. Children’s fears can be increased by their imagination, and you should take these feelings seriously. Your words and actions can provide reassurance; be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable. 

Helpful Links

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Games and Activities
FEMA Kid Preparedness information
Ready, Set, Prepare Coloring/Activity Book
Sesame Street Emergency Preparation