For families with children, earthquake preparedness is a project for the whole family.
Are you prepared for an earthquake? Do you think your family knows what it needs to do to survive one? Will your family be able to recover quickly after an earthquake? Any earthquake plan you make needs to include your children. Read on for some helpful ideas on preparing your children for the Big One.
Infants and Toddlers
- For infants and toddlers, you really need to think in terms of making their environment as safe as possible.
- Your baby’s crib should be placed well away from windows and tall furniture that could slide or topple on to them in their crib.
- Any emergency kit you make for yourself needs to include at least a 72-hour supply of extra water, formula, bottles, food, juices, clothing, disposable diapers, baby wipes, a change of clothing and prescribed medications especially for your baby. You may not be a fan of disposable diapers, but post-earthquake is the ideal time to take advantage of their convenience. Keep another set of the same things in your car too.
- Think about what you will need to be able to evacuate your baby. A stroller? A baby backpack? You may have to walk some distance so think in terms of what will be best for you to carry your emergency supplies and your baby.
- Do you have bumper pads in your baby’s crib? They will cushion your baby during earthquake shaking.
- Install kid-safe latches on all cupboards (not just those young children can reach) so no heavy or breakable shelf items come tumbling down on your baby during an earthquake.
Preschool & School-age Children
- When your child is old enough to understand, explain what earthquakes are and how they can affect them. Include your children when you plan for earthquake safety. Conduct earthquake drills and review safety procedures every six months. Make a game of it.
- Point out to your children the safest places to be in each room when an earthquake hits. Also show them all possible exits from each room so they know how to get out once the shaking stops.
- Teach your children to Drop, Cover & Hold On during an earthquake, using tables, desks and pillows .
- Teach children what to do wherever they are during an earthquake (at school, in a tall building, outdoors).
- Make sure children’s emergency cards at school are up-to-date, and talk with your child’s school about their emergency plan.
- Although children should not turn off any utility valves, it’s important that they know what gas smells like. Advise children to tell an adult if they smell gas after an emergency.
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What Do You Put in Your Kid’s Earthquake Go-bag?
Why, as much as they can carry comfortably for their size, including their favorite small toys, games, and snacks. A child old enough to carry a backpack like this is old enough to shoulder their own little earthquake go-bag. Here are things to include:
- A bag that your child can carry easily. Something big enough to hold everything, but small enough to slide under their bed. A child’s backpack would work well.
- A bungee cord to attach it to the bed – you don’t want it bouncing away before you ever get to use it!
- An easy-to-use, kid-friendly flashlight with batteries stored separately
- Bottled water
- High calorie snack items that you know your child will eat.
- A change of clothes, like sweats.
- A toy, small game or book
- A copy of your family emergency wallet card
- Important! A recent photo of you with your child. If you are separated, this could be the best means of being reunited.
Optional items for your kid’s earthquake go-bag:
- Transistor radio, depending on the age of your child
- Playing cards or other small games
- Teddy Bear
- Pen and paper
- A favorite book
- Dust mask/bandanna
- Protective goggles
Join with your neighbors and plan to help each other. Identify residents’ expertise and vulnerable households that might need extra help. Take a first-aid course. Learn CPR.
Know your utilities
All family members should know how and when to turn off the utilities: gas, electric and water.
Turn the gas off only if you hear hissing or smell gas. Once turned off, gas can only be restarted by a trained technician. Attach a wrench to your gas meter so it will be handy. To shut off gas, turn the valve until it is perpendicular to the pipe.
If you see sparks, damaged wires or smell burning insulation, switch the power off at the main breaker or fuse box. During a prolonged outage, leave a single light circuit switched on. That way you’ll know when the power is back.
Turn the water off if there is obvious leakage, or if there’s a chance water lines are damaged, which could allow contamination. Wait for notification that lines are OK before turning it back on.
After it hits
- Check for hazards such as fire, leaks, chemical spills and precarious structures.
- Be cautious in damaged buildings, and assess the conditions outside before exiting a building.
- Stay away from downed power lines.
- Provide first aid and a safe place for anyone who is injured.
- Call 911 or other emergency phone numbers only to report life-threatening emergencies. Phone lines will be jammed, and increased calls can hamper rescue efforts.
- Avoid moving severely injured people unless necessary.
- Stockpile water. Your community’s supply may be limited due to broken mains. Fill your bathtub. Be prepared to treat, filter or boil contaminated water.
- Eat refrigerated food first, frozen food next and dried or canned food last.
- If the electricity is out, open the refrigerator and freezer doors only when necessary. Refrigerated food should be OK for about 6 hours; frozen food should be safe for up to 48 hours.
Stay safe, be prepared.
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