Tell kids about disaster plans

By Jennifer Hudnall Published:

In the last few weeks, Mother Nature has orchestrated some pretty serious storms locally. On a broader perspective, in recent years our nation as a whole has been inundated with what seem to be disaster after disaster. From terrorists to hurricanes, wildfires to house fires, floods to ice storms, theres hardly a day goes by that doesnt bring news of a citys plight or a familys heartache. But with a little forethought and some simple planning, families can weather the unpleasant surprises life may throw at them.

When creating a disaster plan for your family, the first step is to think about the most likely emergencies in your area. Are you in a flood plain? Are you in an area prone to earthquakes? You may not be in an area thats susceptible to wildfires, but a house fire is always possible. In Kentucky, everyone is at risk from winter storms, thunderstorms or even the occasional tornado. Prepare for those emergencies you think are most likely.

Adults should first make evacuation plans, discuss them with the children, and then practice with them. Drills benefit the parents as well as the children. Repetition will lend a sense of familiarity to an unfamiliar situation and make it easier for everyone to remain calm during a stressful time.

When you devise your emergency plan, it is always a good idea to have two meeting places for your family. One should be right outside your home, so if your smoke alarms went off in the middle of the night and you evacuated the house, everyone would know where to meet.

This could be a tree or a neighbors house. The other meeting place should be outside your immediate area or neighborhood. If there were a flood or a wildfire and you couldnt make it back home, your family would have a place to go to know that everybodys safe. You will also want to plan how family members who may not have access to a car will get there.

Plan for two points of contact by phone. Also, its recommended that those folks be out of your immediate area, preferably out of your area code if not out of state. Often, in large emergencies, local phone lines are overburdened and you may only be able to make long distance calls. Everyone in your family should know to call these numbers to let the contact person know where they are and that theyre okay.

Finally, involve everyone in putting together an emergency supply kit. This kit should be useful in a number of different situations. Even if your power goes off in a storm, you may have things in that supply kit that can help you get through that short-term situation. Or if you had to evacuate, you could pick your kit up and take it with you and youd know that youd have food that your family actually likes to eat. Include basic toiletries and necessities, as well as comfort items that the children may have picked out. And of course, dont forget water, flashlights, and batteries.

Include all the members of your household in your emergency plans. This will not only prepare everyone, but knowing that all family members understand their roles will create a sense of security and confidence in all who are involved.

When you include children in your planning, consider their ages and their ability to understand the circumstances. Be aware that even young babies feel basic emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, or contentment. Because they are so dependent on adults to supply all of their needs, they are attuned to moods and tension that adults may convey not only in words, but also through facial expressions, voice tones, and body language. A bad experience associated with adult panic could very well embed itself in their brains, only to resurface at an older age.

Children can understand language before they can actually talk. This is important to keep in mind. Children from ages 1 to 3 may very well become anxious if they hear a parent talking to another adult using worried or angry language. Very young children may not have the ability to tell a parent that they are upset about what they have heard. Conversely, if an adult is calm and shows that he or she is under control, children will gain confidence and strength. Mentally preparing your reaction in a particular circumstance will help create that essential calm.

Knowing the temperament of your children will go a long way in deciding how much information you should share with them and the manner in which to do it. Children feel more secure when they know what to do in case of a situation where they need to get out of the house quickly.

4-H Calendar


April 28 Pop tab collection deadline

April 29 4-H Livestock Meeting at U.K. Research Farm, 2-4 p.m.

May 3 4-H Dog Club Meeting at L.I.F.E. House

May 4-5 TFCA Environmental Camp

May 11 Fashion Review, 6:30 p.m.

May 13 4-H Ham Project Meeting

May 20 Camp Clean-up Day at North Central

May 25 4:30-6:30 Camp Sign-up Night at Extension Office, 4:30-6:30

June 8 4-H Cooking Camp, 9 a.m.

June 12-16 4-H Teen Conference at U.K

June 20 Camper Orientation at Peaks Mill, 6 p.m.

June 24 District 4 Shooting Sports Contest at Mercer County

July 3-7 4-H Camp

July 8 District 4 Shooting Sports Archery and trap contest at Madison Co.

July 17-22 Franklin County Fair

(Unless otherwise noted, all events and meetings are at the Extension Office).

The Franklin County Extension Office is located at 101 Lakeview Ct. The telephone number is 695-9035. Web site is Office hours are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

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