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Remember back in 1997 when Halloween was cancelled in locations in eastern Nebraska due to a snowstorm?

Cancelling Halloween may not have been a true "disaster" as much for the adults as it was for the children who look forward to an evening of trick-or-treating. The real disaster that weekend occurred when tree branches (which still had most of their leaves) became heavy with ice and snow and snapped during the night. This caused further damage to property and power outages throughout Omaha and Lincoln for up to 8 days.

Do you have a plan for your home in case something like this would happen again? What would you do if you had no power for 8 days? How would you prepare food? How would you keep your children warm? 

I know the value of being prepared whether taking a test, teaching a class or packing for a vacation. I make lists, check them twice and am packed and ready to go a minimum of 2 days in advance.  Thank goodness I packed my hospital bag 6 weeks before my due date as I went into labor 5 weeks early!

Why should it be any different when it comes to being prepared for an emergency?

Our job as parents is to ensure the safety and well-being of our children. We can do this by putting a plan in place and collecting basic necessities for our family members, including our pets.

4 Steps for Emergency Prep

I have 4 easy steps to help prepare your family for disaster. Remember, a disaster could be many different things include a snowstorm, fire, tornado, earthquake, flood, etc...

1. Emergency Kit

Create an emergency kit with supplies for at least 72 hours for each person and pet in your home.

The kit should be convenient and portable

Provide basic needs in event of emergency

  • Water = 1 gallon per person per day
  • 3 day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener – think of food which does not need cooked.
  • A hand crank, battery powered NOAA weather radio with tone alerts and extra batteries.  
  • A Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First Aid Kit

2. Secure Critical Documents

Store your critical documents in a water proof, fireproof location. These documents should include

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Passports
  • Insurance information
  • Any other unreplaceable documents which could include family photos

3. Basic Needs

Prepare for basic needs relevant to your family and include children in packing

  • Clothing
  • Personal items
  • Prescription medicine
  • Work gloves
  • Contacts or glasses
  • Emergency blankets
  • Cell phone charger
  • Copies of your vital records
  • Phone numbers and address book
  • Toys, etc...

4. Emergency Drills

Practice family drills so that your children and you know what to do.  

Of course, having what you need is the first step to being prepared. Those of us with little kids should be practicing family drills. My suggestion would be to practice on the first day of each season – or more often. Walk your child through what to do in case of an emergency. How do you get outside (doors, windows, and other exits), where do you meet, who can you call, etc.  Actively participating in a drill will make it easier for your child to remember in the event of an emergency. Follow the drill with a reflection conversation. Ask questions and be ready to learn from your kids, too. How they see the world can be so helpful in disaster planning.

It is a good idea to know how to support our young children after a disaster as well. NebGuide prepared this document on how to help preschoolers manage their emotions after a disaster.

Simple, small steps can make a difference when it comes to a disaster.  Be prepared.

Additional Information

FEMA: Coping with Disaster

Ready.gov: Helping Children Cope with Disaster

Jaclynn Foged

The UNL Learning Child Team

Jaclynn, is an Extension Educator on The Learning Child Team. Jaci holds a B.S. Degree in Early Childhood Education/Child Development from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane College in Crete, Ne. Jaci provides training to childcare providers and families in the Southeast area of Nebraska. Jaci has over 15 years of experience working with children birth to 8 years of age, including 8 years of center based childcare director experience. ...

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