The topic for today is something not talked about with any regularity. We’ve all lost power before. Who is it that is the most scared and the most excited at the same time (usually)? Your kids.
Last year, we had a tornado warning. My daughter, 6 at the time, got her backpack with a change of clothes in it along with emergency food and water, a few of her favorite stuffies and her Nintendo DS into the inner hallway and proceeded to camp out on a blanket for the duration of the warning.
The tornado never did happen but I was very impressed by her calmness. I’m in the preparedness business and I never miss a chance to give her a lesson but I still did not expect the calm, cool and collected attitude she had.
The topic of children before, during and after any emergency situation is VERY important. I know that many kids seem to be indestructible. They are not. They have just as many fears and worries, hopes and dreams as we do. Many parents worry that talking with the kids about emergencies that have not happened might make them more anxious in an emergency situation.
By the experience of mine I just told you about, it seems to me that just the opposite is true. My daughter may not always have her head on straight but she knew exactly what to do and she did it. I never sat her down and lectured her. All I did was make a comment now and again or ask her a question and explain the answer every once and a while.
There are many resources available to help you teach your kids about emergencies. I went through many of them and decided that a simple type of question repeated over and over again gets the brain moving. Her answers to my questions are coming faster and faster as she grows and learns. She has even given me answers that trumped my own explanations!
As a small business owner, I order publications from FEMA and donate them to my local library. One of them that I recently donated is a children’s activity book called “Ready Kids Activity Book”. It uses Rex, the Ready Kids mountain lion mascot and his family to teach kids valuable lessons about readiness.
The book has coloring pages, word searches, crossword puzzles and mini comic strips to help them learn about the things that are needed and the tasks that are done before, during and after an emergency situation. Just go to http://www.ready.gov/kids for lots of info.
The American Red Cross has good info as well. Here’s the link: http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/Fast%20Facts/Helping_Children_Cope_English.revised_7-09.pdf
Here is an excellent article from FEMA: http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=3283
Discovery has a very cool website: http://readyclassroom.discoveryeducation.com/
The American Academy of Pediatrics has a good site for parents: http://www.aap.org/disasters/index.cfm
When it comes down to it, involve the kids in your preparations but most importantly, don’t forget about their feelings during and after the emergency. Make sure your preparations include something for them to do, i.e – coloring books, reading books, cards, travel games, a few extra pieces of candy, etc.
Remember, if they see you “freaking out”, they are likely to do so as well. Keeping your calm as much as possible may be even more important to them than it is to you. You are their hero, their rock. You are here for them.