On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is encouraging families, pediatricians and communities to prepare// for potential natural and other disasters to minimize the physical and emotional toll on children.
Children are especially vulnerable during and after disasters. The AAP recommends that parents discuss possible disaster plans with their children, so the children will know what to do in hazardous situations.
Parents can create a family disaster plan by taking these simple steps.
- Talk with your children about the dangers of disasters that are common to in your area and how to prepare for each type. Make sure they know where to go in your home and school to stay safe during an earthquake, tornado, hurricane or other disaster.
- Teach your child how to recognize danger signals. Ensure your child knows what smoke detectors, fire alarms and local community warning systems (horns and sirens) sound like and what to do when they hear them.
- Explain to children how and when to call for help. Keep emergency phone numbers where family members can find them.
- Pick an out-of-state family contact person who family members can "check-in" with if you are separated during an emergency. For older children, help them to memorize the person's name and phone number, or give them a copy of the emergency list.
- Agree on a meeting place away from your home (a neighbor or relative's house or even a street corner) where you would get together if you were separated in an emergency. Give each family member an emergency list with the name, address and phone number of the meeting place.
- Put together a disaster supplies kit for your family. http://www.aap.org/family/frk/frkit.htm
- Practice your family disaster plan every six months, so everyone will remember what to do in an emergency.
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