Whether at home or at school, children need to know what to do in emergencies and disasters. During Preparedness Month, parents and educators are being urged to help young Iowans learn how they can be more prepared.
Children should be active participants in disaster planning. By getting them involved early, it will help alleviate their fears as well as prepare them to take action in an emergency situation. The more they help plan, the more ready they will be.
The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD) and the Iowa School Safety Coalition (ISSC) have teamed up to offer some tips on emergency preparedness for kids, parents and educators.
• Get children involved in creating a family emergency plan. Talk about the plan on a regular basis to help them remember what they should do and where they should go during an emergency.
• Have them help to assemble an emergency supply kit and make sure they know where that kit is located.
• Talk about the different types of emergencies and what they should do for each.
• Talk with them about emergencies that could happen when they are at home and at school and what they should do.
“While the focus of the Iowa School Safety Coalition is assisting schools, we recognize that prepared students contribute to the overall preparedness of their families, schools and communities,” said Mary Gannon, chair of the ISSC and attorney at the Iowa Association of School Boards.
Story County Emergency Management encourages parents to become familiar with the school emergency plans of their children, even if they are in college. “It is important for parents to understand how their child’s school will handle emergencies or disasters and how the school will communicate with them. Parents need to be familiar with processes the school will use to protect students during a disaster and how students will be reunified with parents when the situation is stabilized. It’s also important parents consider what actions they want their students to take if they are delayed getting home because of a disaster. Understanding and discussing actions a family should take if a disaster happens during schools hours will ensure everyone knows what to do to be safe which will help relieve some of the stress of a difficult time.” Keith Morgan, Story County Emergency Management Coordinator explained.
Story County Emergency Management has worked with the Ballard Community School district for over a year assisting them with the development of an all hazards emergency plan for the district. “Planning efforts have expanded beyond the basic fire and tornado drill many of us remember as children. Schools are encouraged to look at the greatest risks to their facilities and develop plans around those risks.” Morgan added.
Story County Emergency Management has a Kids Preparedness section available with links and tool kids and families can use to prepare for emergencies. There are sites to help build an emergency kit, making a family plan and other preparedness games and activities. http://www.storycountyiowa.gov/kidspreparedness
Preparedness resources for kids, parents and educators are available at www.beready.iowa.gov and www.ready.gov/kids.
Iowa’s Preparedness Month is held in conjunction with National Preparedness Month, which was created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in an effort to educate the public on how to prepare for emergencies.
For more information on Preparedness Month, visit www.beready.iowa.gov.
The ISSC, formed in 2012, provides schools with a number of resources, including the Iowa School Safety Guide to provide a planning resource when creating school safety plans. For more information, visit www.iowaschoolsafety.org.