3 Reasons it’s Important to Prepare Your Child for Disasters Before They Happen

3 Reasons it’s Important to Prepare Your Child for Disasters Before They Happen
As someone who has spent decades immersed in the practice and teaching of disaster preparation, I always hoped this knowledge and skills were something that I would pass on to my children. Fast forward to today, and my four-year-old daughter is a bonafide disaster-preparation enthusiast who loves to share her knowledge with friends at school (especially when she gets to demonstrate how to roll oneself up in an emergency thermal blanket like a burrito).

What I didn’t anticipate, though, was that as I was developing ways to engage with her on the subject, I’d discover that there’s a serious lack of resources and supplies specifically created with children in mind. This is one of the primary reasons we started LadyBugOut; while bugout bags for adults abound, I was shocked to learn that there weren’t many ready-made options for children, who are one of the most vulnerable groups during a natural disaster or emergency event.

And while LadyBugOut bags are designed to facilitate exploration and play, becoming familiar with the bag and its contents is only one part of the equation. As parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure we’re having clear, instructive conversations about natural disasters and emergency events before they happen.

In talking to countless parents over the years, I know that the prospect of talking about events such as wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes can be daunting. But these conversations don’t need to be scary—not for you, nor for your child. Planning to have these conversations ahead of time will help keep your child as safe as possible. Here’s why.

Conversation and practice helps build confidence

When a natural disaster or emergency event occurs, there’s always a chance you and your child will not be in the same place. “Having honest conversations about planning for natural disasters is the surest way to empower them and teach them the skills necessary to stay safe, both physically and psychologically,” says Susan Ko, clinical psychologist and LadyBugOut advisor.

In particular, focusing on what your child is capable of on his or her own—so long as it’s appropriate to their developmental age—helps instill a confidence in them that will be especially important in the event that you and your child are separated.

Your child—and ultimately, your community—will be safer

LadyBugOut was created with the safety of your individual child in mind. But it’s also meant to be a tool that helps us build safer communities together. As I mentioned, my four-year-old has become something of a disaster-preparation evangelist, and her friends’ parents have mentioned to me how their children have started to ask questions about their family’s emergency plan. The more we share information and empower our children to share this knowledge, the stronger our communities as a whole will be.

Resilience will help them before, during, and after an emergency event

When we think about family emergency plans, it’s easy to experience a bit of tunnel vision and really hone in on preparing for what happens in the timeframe of a disaster. But something that gets overlooked far too often is what happens after the event. And in the process of engaging our children with practice and conversations, we’re simultaneously cultivating a skill that is arguably one the most important: Resilience.

Not only is the capacity to recover quickly from a difficult situation imperative during an emergency, but it’s also incredibly important when it comes to recuperation. Feelings of distress can linger after a traumatic event, and the more comfortable your child feels with confronting difficult situations in real-time, the better they will be able to cope with the aftermath.

Additionally, building resilience in your child means they’ll be better equipped to cope not only with emergencies, but with the much more common everyday challenges they will inevitably face. “Resiliency is one of the things that will offer your child the greatest protection in the long run,” says psychologist and LadyBugOut advisor Holly Hunter, and it’s something that will help them immensely in the long run.