Tag: students

Prepare your kids for school-related emergencies

Young student prepared to respond to emergency
Will she know what to do?

Today let’s take a look at individual students’ readiness for a school-related emergency.

Last week I reviewed preparedness actions schools should be taking or at least considering. I hope you grabbed a copy of School Preparedness Questions to take with you to a Back to School meeting. This week, we’re taking a look at some ways you can prepare your kids for handling emergency decisions on their own!

How well your kids respond will depend on how well YOU have prepared them!

If you live in the country or spend time camping or even scouting, your family may “score” well on most of the following questions. But many of the kids I engage with as a school crossing guard don’t have access to physical challenges. Many are protected from dangerous/decision-building experiences. You’ll see that bias reflected in these Advisory questions!

Obviously, the “correct” answer to any of these school-related preparedness questions depends on the age of the child, where you live, your home environment, etc.

Are your kids aware of emergencies that could arise on the way to school?

  • What are realistic threats that your child could face on the way to (or from) school? Depending on your child’s age and where you live, the trip to or from school might include:
    • Dangerous traffic or street crossings
    • A car, bus or bike accident
    • Being approached by a stranger
    • Falling ill or getting a scrape or cut
    • Witnessing a fight or other violence
    • Being harassed or bullied by other children
    • Being threatened by a dog or wild animal
    • An unexpected weather event or road closure
    • You fill in the blank!
  • Do you prepare your kids for these “daily” possibilities as well as major threats like earthquake or fire? You’ll probably want to discuss likely threats one at a time. As your child gets older, the list of threats might change. Plan to have this potential “threat” conversation multiple times.
  • Does your young school-aged child know his or her full name and address? In an emergency, just a first name won’t do!
    Crossing Guard speaks: When your young child is asked, “What’s your name?” give them the space to answer! I make it a point to learn all my kids’ names. Every year, I am frustrated because so many protective parents jump right in with answers to ANY question I ask!
  • Has your child memorized at least one or two key phone numbers? In an emergency you may lose your personal phone, or it may not work. Emergency personnel will likely have the ability to connect.

Are your kids prepared to get home from school on their own?

  • In an emergency, could your child find his way home from school? Walking, or directing someone to take him? Under what conditions would you want your kid to walk home alone?
    Crossing Guard comment: Sometimes, when busy parents drop off kids at my corner before speeding off to work, I ask the kids: “So if you had to get home on your own, do you think you could find your way?” They mostly just shake their heads.
  • Do your walk-to-school children know more than one route home?
  • Is there a way your child can get home by taking a bus? Which bus? Which bus stops?

Does your child know what to expect in an emergency at school?

  • Does your child understand the what and why of school safety drills? Do you practice together at home to show you think the drills are important?
  • Do you prepare your kids for the fact that in an emergency they might have to stay at school for a long time? Or leave the school and go somewhere else?
  • How well would your child take emergency direction from someone new? (Teacher, crossing guard, police officer, school volunteer, etc.) Would your child be willing to come home with a neighbor? (You may have to adjust your teaching about “Don’t ever get into the car of a stranger.”)

What emergency supplies will your children have?  

Your questions to the school board should have resulted in answers about emergency supplies maintained by the school. Here are some questions about individual student supplies.

  • Does your school require that children bring an “emergency kit” to be kept in the classroom? What is in it? (Our research suggests that often it’s a couple of items in a zip lock baggie, almost totally useless.)
  • Does your child have personal emergency supplies in his backpack? How often do you replace and replenish the kit? Given the comments above, should your child’s personal kit contain an emergency phone?
  • Are all the items in your student’s kit allowed by the school?
Prepare your kids with a kit from this collection of student emergency kits from 2BeReady.com

What would you want in your kids’ school kit? These photos show examples of some of the Student and Classroom Kits from 2BeReady.com. (Best seller, upper left.) See P.S. and the bottom of this page for more details.

Final question: Does your child know how to call 911?

It seems so simple in the movies. But it’s not, for a child!

First, the kid has to have a phone. Landlines are easiest to manage and more reliable but there are hardly any around any more. So that means the call will likely be made on a cellphone. That phone has to have battery power and the child has to know how to get to the emergency keypad.

Once the child has reached emergency services, she’ll be asked many questions. The first question will be, “What is your emergency?” That will be followed by questions requiring name, address, location at that address, details about the emergency. Above all, your child mustn’t hang up!

Have you practiced making emergency 911 calls with your kids? (Don’t actually call, though.) We’ve all heard the stories of toddlers dialing 911 and saving a parent. It wasn’t luck. Those kids were trained!

School will be starting soon. Take this time to help prepare your kids for emergencies!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. I mentioned that typical school “emergency kits” are often pretty meager. My friend Susan at 2BeReady has researched and developed a selection of complete school emergency kits. Please take a look at her full page of different school kits from 2BeReady.   There’s a list of Frequently Asked Questions for school emergency supplies there, too. Order now and you’ll have what you need in time for the first day of school.