What if you’re not there?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 60.2% of all married-couple families with children showed both parents working. If you are one of those working parents/caregivers, do your children or the person(s) caring for your children know what to do when an emergency happens?
Many schools today have established Emergency Action Plans (EAP). These plans are established by the individual school districts and are used to protect your children/students in the event of an emergency while the students are in the care and custody of the school district. When the children are not in school and are playing outside, shopping at the mall with friends, walking home or studying, do they know what to do when an emergency happens? If you leave your children under the supervision of a sitter, a nanny, at a Day Care center, with a neighbor or family member or by themselves, do these individuals know what to do when an emergency happens?
What is an “emergency” you ask? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines an “emergency” as “an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action; an urgent need for assistance or relief.” What emergency event may happen to you or your family depends on many variables too numerous to mention. Because of these variables “no two emergencies are the same.” An emergency event may be a natural disaster (i.e. a sudden developing tornado or earthquake), or maybe a man-made event (i.e. an active shooter, a cyber attack, terrorist attack), a technological event (i.e. a regional power system failure/outage, a water purification system failure), and so on. You read the newspapers, watch and listen in awe to the breaking news reports of tragedies across this country and then we give thanks that it didn’t affect us. As many emergency management professionals say today, “The question is not IF a major event will happen, it is WHEN will it happen?”
Can we ask our school district to educate our children in emergency preparedness? Sure, you can begin right now with the arduous task of soliciting support from your children, parents/caregivers, teachers, school boards, parent:teacher associations, public safety officials, neighborhoods and communities but in the meantime why not begin educating your own family and friends.
A common belief by many people is that the emergency or catastrophic event is most likely not going to happen to me. It will happen to someone else. A survey was conducted in 2012 (11 years after the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center) where adults were asked “How prepared are you?” The results are startling: 82% of the people that were prepared had previously experienced a disaster, 27% of this group indicated a need to care for family. When asked why people were not prepared, 38% said they never thought of it, 48% indicated they had a lack of financial resources and 15% said they didn’t have the time. I wonder what percent really didn’t care?
Children often mimic their parent’s reactions to events so why not take the time now to teach your children what to do when an emergency happens. You can’t prepare an Emergency Action Plan for every conceivable event but you can develop an “All Hazards” approach to emergency preparedness and focus on those incidents that may be familiar to your home and your community. Teaching our children today yields many benefits in the future: they will be better informed and prepared as they grow older, children often teach and share information with other children and when these children become parents they will most likely share their preparedness interests with their families. The 2010 US Census Bureau reports that 23.7% of the United States population is under 18 years of age. What a great place to start!
For your safety, the safety of you family, your neighborhood, your community and your country, let’s begin the discussion and prepare an Emergency Action Plan for your family. If you as parents or caregivers don’t teach your children what to do then how do you expect them to learn and be prepared?