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Kids: An Important Part of a Family Disaster Plan

Release date: 
September 25, 2011
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ALBANY, N.Y. – September is an exciting time for children getting into the swing of a new school year. September is also National Preparedness Month, a great opportunity for parents to involve kids in creating a family disaster plan in case of emergency.

By engaging children in preparing a family disaster plan, parents can establish in their kids a sense of control and confidence. Kids can be directly involved in putting together a family emergency preparedness kit and in making plans for the care of family pets in case of disaster.

Talking with kids about the dangers that families can face in an emergency -- in a calm and age-appropriate way -- is an important first step toward preparedness. Violent events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods or acts of terrorism are frightening to children and adults alike. Talking about such hazards with children can decrease their fear. 

When children have a sense of being directly involved and doing something positive and constructive, everyone gains energy and confidence. There are three basic steps all families should follow to prepare for emergencies:

  • Put together a family emergency kit or “Go Bag”
  • Make a family disaster plan
  • Stay informed about potential emergencies and disaster plans in your community

Helping their parents assemble an emergency kit is an ideal activity for children. (visit Explain to kids that families like yours may need to survive on their own for a little while after an emergency. This means having food, water, and other supplies to last three days.

Recommended items to include in a family emergency kit or ‘Go Bag’:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered AM/FM radio and/or a NOAA Weather Radio receiver
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and whistle
  • A dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties
  • Wrench, pliers, matches and can opener
  • Local maps
  • Cellphones with chargers, inverter or solar charger

You may want to include additional items in your kit, including prescription medications, eyeglasses, infant formula and diapers, food, water and supplies for your pet or pets, as well as cash.  For more information about assembling a family emergency kit, visit

Involve your kids in developing a family disaster plan

  • Identify an out-of town contact.  It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.  If you have kids, the contact should be someone they know and trust.
  • Be sure every member of your family has a cell phone to reach the emergency contact or designated "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) number in your phone. Make sure to tell those you have so designated that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
  • Teach family members, including kids, how to use text messaging. Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
  • Once you have developed your plan, you and your children need to practice and maintain it.

Stay informed

Talk to your kids about what kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, are most likely to occur in your area and how you will be notified. Find out if your area will be served by emergency ...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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