Planning for Children

Emergency planning for a family—especially if you have children—requires extra thought and preparation. You have to take into account additional factors that will help everyone effectively manage a stressful situation.

How many children will you need to plan for? The number of children you have in your family might climb during a disaster. You might suddenly find yourself responsible for nephews, nieces or even grandchildren. Talk with your relatives and discuss their own emergency preparedness plans so you know the maximum number of children you need to prepare for.

What are the ages of the children in your plan? Age is a very important factor to consider when making your emergency plans. Can they move around on their own? Are they able to communicate injuries or concerns? Are they old enough to drive? Will you need to pack additional diapers, food or baby care items?

What issues will you need to consider if you have to evacuate? Evacuating a disaster area or moving to a shelter with children presents its own set of challenges. You need to plan ahead to make an extended stay away from your home as comfortable as possible. You’ll want to bring along games, books, crafts or other materials to help keep them entertained.

What if a child is away when a disaster strikes? There are times when your family is separated. No one knows when an emergency situation might arise, so you have to prepare for anything. A few easy steps can make all the difference. Be sure your children never leave home without emergency contact information. Be sure they know whom to call first if you’re unavailable. Identify “safe places” in your community where they should go if lost or separated.

What about children with special health care needs? If you have a child with special health care needs, fill out an Emergency Information Form and give copies of it to all of your child’s caregivers (baby sitters, school teachers, grandparents and others). For more information, visit Emergency and Disaster Planning for Children with Special Health Care Needs: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/cshcn/pdf/emer_plan.pdf

These are just some of the issues you should consider when making emergency plans that include children. For additional information on planning for children and helpful tips to effectively manage an emergency situation, visit:

DSHS Web Site dealing with Children:
http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/preparedness/e-prep_public.shtm#children

Helping Children Recover from the Emotional Aftermath of a Disaster
http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/preparedness/factsheet_children_emotional_recovery.pdf