Imagine it is the middle of the day. Your kids are in school, you are at the office. The building begins to sway and then the lights go out. You grab your phone and call your child’s school, but you cannot get through. The building starts to shake violently, like nothing you’ve felt before. Is this the quake they’ve been warning everyone about? Where is your child? Is she safe? Who is taking care of her? Is she as frightened as you are?
Most parents work to make sure their children are prepared to cope with whatever the world throws at them. We help them with their homework to make sure they are ready for school. We try to make sure they eat the right foods. And, we want to keep them out of harm’s way. But do parents really teach their children what they need to know in the event of a disaster? Many parents in California have an emergency kit in the house and car, but are our children ready? Would they know how to cope and keep themselves safe if they were separated from us?
Dr. Jeffrey Upperman is director of the Disaster Preparedness project at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. He has spent years making sure public health institutions are prepared to address the needs of children in an emergency. Through his practice he has also learned a good deal about what families can do to prepare themselves—and their children—for the consequences of a disaster.
Experts say that children as young as age three can begin to understand earthquakes, floods, fires and other disasters. They should also be able to understand some simple steps you can take together to ensure they stay safe if you are not there to help them. Dr. Upperman’s top tips for you and your children:
Thanks to Dr. Jeffrey Upperman, Director of the Pediatric Disaster Preparedness project at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, for this information.
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