When it comes to being prepared in the event of a natural disaster, one of the most basic recommendations you’ll come across is to have nonperishable food items on hand. Whether you’re using guidelines from FEMA, the Red Cross, or Ready.gov, all three agencies indicate that best practice is to anticipate up to three days — 72 hours — of disruption to public services such as natural gas, water, and electricity. But here’s the thing: 72 hours’ worth of nonperishables is heavy. Especially when you’re only four feet tall and weigh fifty pounds.
As humans, we have a tendency to avoid thinking about things that stray too far from what we encounter on a day-to-day basis. For example, most adults go to work and come home at predictable times. It happens so routinely, in fact, that your brain stops devoting much time and effort to thinking about it; it’s only when something atypical happens that your brain makes note. And generally speaking, this is a good thing; it allows your brain to be busy doing other things, like figuring out dinner, planning your next family vacation, etc.
The first step to guide your child's interaction with their emergency supplies is to determine your child's developmental age. A child’s developmental age may not always align with their chronological age. Knowing their developmental age will help guide your interaction with your child with their emergency bag so they can feel prepared, empowered, and safe.
For those of us who may be setting out to develop a family emergency preparedness plan for the first time, it’s understandable to think that first aid is something that belongs in the realm of adult responsibility. And to be sure, parents and caretakers should absolutely be well versed in first aid. But helping your child develop a working knowledge of first-aid practices not only empowers them to be as prepared as possible for an emergency situation, but also helps them develop their sense of purpose, compassion, self-esteem, and empathy.
My first-aid kit is a little red bin full of odds and ends, tucked away in between the towels and sheets in our bathroom. There are leftover and dwindling supplies from my military days, many random cartoon-covered Band-Aids, and a handful of OTC meds. Nothing is organized. Nothing is inventoried. All of which might come as a bit of a surprise, considering I’m an ER doctor.
Creating this bag was a labor of love in the truest sense of the word. My daughter was three at the time, and I was learning firsthand and in real time that observing an interactive, inquisitive child can show you a lot about the design process.
Over the course of 20 years as a military reservist, I have led classes for hundreds of government, civilian and military disaster-planning experts. And whether the topic of discussion is big-picture strategy or more tactical elements such sheltering and evacuations, one of the major focuses of disaster planning is caring for our most vulnerable populations—namely, the elderly and children.
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