Sunday, March 13, 2011

Family Emergency Preparedness

You can never be too prepared with emergency preparedness

By Melissa DeMoux

The smoke detector screeches and my family jumps into action.

There isn’t an actual fire, but this is one of our annual practice sessions, so my husband and I do all we can to create the feel of an emergency.

A couple of times every year, our family practices what to do in case of different emergencies.

Fire emergency

Tonight, we are prepping for a home fire. We draw fake fires on paper and place them around the house. Our children are stationed in their bedrooms ready for the drill.

When the alarm sounds, they first feel their bedroom doors to see if they are hot, then they attempt to make their way to our safe spot in a neighbor's yard. If they find a fire blocking their normal path, they have to find another way out. It may mean taking a different hallway or even climbing out a window.

This real life practice is essential. In the face of a real emergency, our children will be scared and probably overwhelmed. To ask them to do something they have never done before – like climbing out a window – simply adds more stress to a dangerous situation.

And so we practice. We rehearse for fires, earthquakes, medical disasters and stranger dangers.


When we prepare for earthquakes, we help each of our children determine the best place in their bedrooms and other communal rooms to huddle for protection in case of an earthquake. We also plan where to meet if something happens while the kids are in school.

Medical emergencies

For medical emergencies, we learn very basic first aid and how to call for help. Our children are small, so we have created a song to help them remember the number to call in case of an emergency.

“I know when someone needs help dial 9-1-1. I dial a nine and then a one and then a one for help to come. I know when someone needs help dial 9-1-1.”

We sing it like a lion and a bird to keep it interesting. Still, the lyrics stick, and that is what we are going for.

Stranger emergencies

Last, but not least, we practice for stranger emergencies. We literally ask our children to scream for help at the top of their lungs. Our neighbors might be a little concerned by the noise, but we want our kids to know how real screaming should sound.

We practice what to say to an overly friendly stranger and where to run for help if the need arises.

In an actual crisis, there is little time for thinking and no room for wild panic. By preparing for emergencies before they happen, you give your family tools that will help them conquer any tragedy.

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