We’ve taught our children the dangers of smoking, drugs, talking to strangers and not to play with matches. These are all great lessons but do they know what to do in case of an emergency. Emergencies can range from things like a natural disaster to being locked out of the house to getting out of a house fire. These situations should be discussed so everyone knows the correct plan of action if something should arise.
Plan an Escape. Create a map of your home and all of the ways out of it. Make note of windows, heights to the ground and obstacles such as hard to open locks or large furniture. Practice different scenarios with your entire family to ensure everyone knows the next step if plan A doesn’t pan out. Purchasing fire extinguishers and even an emergency fire escape ladder should be first on the list. Practice using what you can so if an emergency actually happens you aren’t fumbling with a product you aren’t familiar with.
Who is Home? If your children come home after school to a parent or caretaker, would they know what to do if no one was there? Do they have access to a key? Do they know the neighbors well enough to ask them for safe shelter? Do they know your phone number so they can find out where you are? What will you do if your regular plan is interrupted by traffic, dead phone batteries and or just losing track of time? You and your children should be prepared for these circumstances just in case they were to happen.
Stay Put. Have you ever lost a child in a crowd? It can be the scariest and longest moments of your life. Do your children know what to do if they lose sight of you? We’ve taught our children to stay exactly where they are if they were ever lost. They know they should find the closest seat or wall and just wait for us. As parents we know how to backtrack and scan those spots. Children can easily get confused and turned around in a busy mall or festival. Teaching them to find a safe spot and to stay there is the best way to ensure you find them again. Security and police aren’t always available so teach them to put themselves in a secure location.
There are so many circumstances that can arise at any moment that put our families in danger. The best way to protect ourselves is with information and communication. Take a few moments each day to discuss best practices for these and other situations that you think you may encounter. Teaching children how and when to use 911 is a great start but keep the talking going beyond that.
Exit Sign image courtesy of mtellin via Flickr