Preparing Kids for Emergencies

By Pantry Patty, a new transplant to Concord from the mid-west via
Boston. She's the mother of three school age children.

Television, the newspaper, radio, magazines, and the internet have been  filled with hurricanes, earthquakes and Y2K of late. Children of all ages view and absorb messages about these situations, and it is natural for them to place themselves into the pictures they see.

There is increased interest in Concord about Y2K due to the neighborhood  initiative around preparedness. With neighbors meeting together all over town, kids are noticing their interest. It is therefore vital parents and children talk about the subject.

Older kids, say 8-15 years old, may respond with pure delight to the possibility that in an emergency school could be closed. Younger children may simply be anxious about Y2K as something they do not understand. As in any time of uncertainty, it is best to try and explain
what it is all about. Involve your children in all that you do to prepare to help to alleviate their fears.

The following are tips on what you can do to involve all members of the family before and during any emergency situation, be it Y2K, a hurricane, blizzard, or something else.

For older kids (8-15)
•Kids often know more than their parents do about computers. Ask them to explain Y2K to you! •Involve them intimately in preparedness activities. Ask them to assist you with research on the Internet into alternative heating, storing water, cooking with a solar oven. Use this research to help make decisions about the level of preparedness your family feels
comfortable with and the development of a family emergency plan. •Assign family members different tasks in the emergency plan. •Have children make lists of what you might want to have on hand in an emergency and agree on a place to keep these items. •Take a class together that could help you prepare: hearthside cooking at the Concord Museum, Emergency Preparedness or Health and Wellness classes at Concord's Adult and community Ed. •Have them make a list of the things the family would need to take to a shelter if the need arose. •Empower your children by asking them to think of ways they could help neighbors in an emergency situation. •Kids and parents can look at the Federal Government's Y2K Youth Education site.

For younger children (2-7)
•Play "Black Out" one evening. Turn out all the lights in the house just before sunset and get out flashlights and battery powered radios. Make up games to play with the flashlights and radio. Spend at least two hours with all lights and the TV turned off. •Ask the kids what they
would do first if the power ceased. Then have everyone act that out. •Try a day without electricity in your house. This requires forethought and is a good exercise for anyone. Plan alternatives to TV and electricity dependent cooking. •Help you child prepare a list of foods
they like that do not need refrigeration. Afterwards, have them help you prepare a snack or meal containing some of those foods.

During an Emergency
•Acknowledge your child's fears if they are anxious. •Have a few new inexpensive toys, books, and craft supplies put away in a closet in a plastic storage bin. Should the electricity go out for an extended period or school be closed it could be very helpful to have a few new distractions. •If your neighbors do the same thing you can each switch these boxes between households every day or two for a whole new set of toys! •Keep on hand a copy of a book that describes the life of children in the 18th or 19th century before electricity. Have your child read the book while they are experiencing the same things these kids lived
through. Orchard House and the Concord Museum Gift Shops have such books.

Be creative and remember that situations stressful to you can be hard on children as well. Try and find out what their concerns are --sometimes just hearing what's on their minds can make their anxiety level drop. Help them remember you and they are not helpless in the face of an emergency and it will be a lesson remembered for a lifetime.

Click here: Preparing Kids for Emergencies

forwarded by Jan Nickerson
Y2K Connections
Building Community Not Crises ~ the ONLY Y2K game in town