3 Simple Steps to Protect Your Family

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A brutal snowstorm strikes at mid-day. Roads grow increasingly congested as commuters across the city scramble to get home before conditions worsen. Ice begins to jam roads, and resulting accidents turn interstates into parking lots and neighborhood roads into skating rinks. Some parents grow increasingly desperate to reach their children as roads become impassable, leaving students stranded on buses and at school. Other parents pick up their children only to become stuck in their cars.

Once safely reunited, families remain stuck indoors for days. Childhood excitement at the sight of snow quickly turns to cabin fever. Parents’ relief to have the family reunited turns to hope for the power to remain on and schools to reopen soon.

This scenario became reality for cities across the southeastern U.S. in January 2014, highlighting the importance of preparedness, especially for families. Natural disasters affect about 66 million children each year. Keeping children safe in emergency situations starts in the home, whatever the emergency may be.

Get a Kit

“If you could take one thing with you on a desert island, what would it be?” This popular children’s question game is not too far off the mark for putting together an emergency kit for your family. Maintaining a routine in an emergency will help your children cope.

Putting together a good kit is the first step in helping you do that. Let your children pick things that make them feel secure, such as a favorite book or food. Your children will enjoy helping create a kit of all the things they are sure they could not live without in case of an emergency. Be sure to include your children in the process. Make it a game, and they will find it fun!

Ready Wrigley Prepares for HurricanesSome basic items to include in your kit include:

  • Flashlight
  • Radio (hand-crank or battery-powered with extra batteries)
  • Water
  • First-aid kit
  • Can opener
  • Canned goods

You should also know your child’s medications and keep a small supply in case of emergency. Consider a small identification card with information on key medications and emergency contacts for your child to keep at all times.

Think of your family’s specific needs. For example, if you have an infant, keep any special foods or extra diapers on hand.

Keep a similar kit in each car, along with a blanket, nonperishable food, and a charger for your phone or other essential electronics.

Make a Plan

14_250512_preparedness_month_child_1bKnowing what to do in an emergency is just as important as having a kit. Most important is ensuring you have a way to reunite your family if they are separated at the time of the emergency. Children do better in these situations when they are with their families. As a start, teach your children important names, phone numbers and addresses. Most children can memorize a phone number by age four or five. Make it a game—it could help keep your children safe.

Protecting your family will involve others, as well. Pick a family member out of town to be a common contact for everyone to call or text. Sometimes local telephone networks can be jammed. If someone else cares for your children during part of the day, always make sure they know what to do and who to contact in an emergency, too. Lastly, make sure you have a plan for what to do with your pets. They are part of the family, too!

Stay Informed

Rear View Of Family Taking Dog For Walk In CountrysideBeing informed of your family’s situation when everyone is separated during the day is important. Know the emergency plan in your children’s schools and keep your emergency contact information up to date. Delegate a close family friend as an alternate contact who could pick your children up if you or your spouse is not able to do so. Consider using a word that only you and your children know, and make sure your children know only to leave with someone who can tell them what the code word is. This word can be anything, like a favorite book character, and can serve as the “password” or the “code word.”

In an emergency, talk to your children about what is happening. Be honest and explain the situation; it’s better to learn about it from you than from the media, since information from the media may not be age-appropriate. Set an example with your own actions by maintaining a sense of calm, even when you are distressed. This will help your family cope in any emergency.

Events and information can change quickly in an emergency. Pay attention to local leaders, like your town’s mayor or police department, so you can make the best, most informed decisions for you and your family.


Real Stories of Emergency Preparedness

CDC’s Caring for Children in a Disaster Site

Ready Wrigley – Preparedness Activities for Kids

Disaster Preparedness for Your Pet

FEMA’s Ready Kids


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4 comments on “3 Simple Steps to Protect Your Family”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    We should consider our home to be secure all the time wherever we go. The 3 Simple Steps to Protect Your Family is very helpful and informative . You cannot be wrong if you consider to protect your home by installing wireless alarm system or wireless security camera. It’s proven that 80% of crime rate solve by security camera. Having a peace of mind while at work could be worth it in a long run.

    Nothing is more important is the safety of our family member. Article like this is worth to share to our love ones and informed them how important it is to be prepared always. Awareness is the key to prevent more damages.

    As a nurse I cannot stress enough the importance of an emergency kit in your vehicle. We are essential personnel and therefore must come in during inclement weather. Due to the hazardous road conditions we face in the winter months, I always keep a kit to include the items mentioned above and also activities for my children to keep them occupied. To add to the emergency supply list above, I keep a gallon of water in my vehicle for each adult and child. Also, high protein snacks “non-space consuming” such as almonds and granola “meal” bars. The technological driven society we live in also influenced me to carry a power supply pack to charge cell phones for emergency use. Being prepared and keeping family informed is the most efficient way to keep your family safe. I also highly recommend notifying a family member when you depart and arrive at your destination, also include the routes you plan on using while traveling.

    Its has been very helpful article about reading child awareness and to teach them to stay alert in an emergency situation. Thanking you such a Nice Information.

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Page last reviewed: September 5, 2014
Page last updated: September 5, 2014