In thinking about emergency planning for your family, schools play a very important role. Schools have become active in disaster preparedness and planning for all student ages.
Know Your School's Emergency Plans
For parents & guardians, know the emergency plans of your child's school. In an emergency, would the students be moved? If so, how will they be moved? If there is a need to be moved off the school campus, where is that location? The term "evacuation" may be used. Don't let that description scare your child - explain that it is a planning and preparedness term.
How will parents/guardians be notified that students are being moved? Some schools use electronic notifications - be aware if your school uses such a system and how to use/access that system. It is possible that students would remain at school; however, keep in mind that parents may not necessarily be able to pick them up. There are instances where keeping the students at school is the safest place for them.
Information Your Child Should Know
In case of an emergency and your child is not able to get home, where is another place he or she can go to and be safe while waiting for you? In emergency planning, a second location is something you should plan for in any type of emergency. It may be a family friend's home, a church, or a location that provides shelter in case of bad weather.
All students should know their parent's or guardian's names, addresses, and telephone numbers. They should be able to contact a second responsible adult. If possible, they should know the pertinent details of your family's emergency plan.
Keep a list of the student's allergies and medical conditions. Remember to list any medications that he or she is taking. Keep current on immunizations, vaccinations, and boosters including tetanus. Pre-school through college freshman have medical requirements; however, after the first year of college, there usually are not additional requirements.
Emergency Kits & Planning
Practice your emergency plans with your family and friends. If old enough, students should make their own emergency preparedness kit. Here are some emergency kit & planning suggestions for your student:
- Make sure your child knows the name, address & phone numbers of parents or guardians. Include a copy of that information in the child's kit, along with items such as:
- Water (box or plastic bottle)
- Snacks such as fruit cups, individual size pretzels, granola or breakfast type bar
- Light or glow stick ("cyalume" is the chemical name)
- Whistle (used to alert for help)
- Tissues and/or wet wipes
High School & Middle School Students:
- Keep a small emergency kit inside your locker or backpack (water / snacks / small flashlight or light stick / small battery-operated radio / whistle / tissues or wet wipes)
- If you are a driver and have a vehicle you drive to school, keep a more extensive emergency kit in this vehicle (extra blanket / gallon of water / extra clothing & walking shoes / additional food / gloves / small amount of cash / toilet paper)
- Know different routes to take to get home
- Be familiar with different ways to travel home (public transportation, carpooling with another student who is a neighbor)
- Prepare a backpack for emergencies (you can quickly grab this & leave) including water, snacks, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, whistle, tissues or wet wipes, extra cash, change of clothing, pain reliever, band-aids, etc.)
- Most schools and colleges gather emergency contact information and medical information as part of the new school year paperwork. Keep a copy of this school paperwork elsewhere such as in your backpack or your dorm room or with your roommate. Put this information into your cell phone in the contact section.
- Keep a flashlight in your dorm room
- Know different routes to take to get home or to some other safe location off campus
- Be familiar with different ways to travel home or to another safe place off campus (public transportation, etc.)
These kit suggestions are not necessarily complete but can be used as a starting point for your child's kit. Know the understanding and capabilities of your child & build the emergency kit to address his or her specific needs.
Remember, contact your child's schools to find out about their emergency preparedness plans and how they will communicate during an emergency.