Hi, Sandy here from Southern Readiness. I was playing with my dogs the other day out back and the neighbor’s kids were out in their yard playing. As usual in Florida about this time of year, the clouds started rolling in and our afternoon storms were coming. It got me thinking about the special prep needed during a hurricane or any type of emergency when you have kids and pets. As adults, we sometimes forget that as stressed out as we get when emergencies happen, it is just as bad or worse for our children and our pets.
We understand more of what is happening or what could happen. My dogs are such big members of the family, as I am sure your pets are as well. I am working on a go bag for my two dogs just in case I have to grab them and run. It will include food for at least 5 days, collapsible bowls (you can get almost anywhere) collars and tags with their information, a copy of up to date vaccine records, a couple small toys, a current photo of each of them (because they are SOOO cute, as well as just in case they get lost) and medication for at least 5 days. Also, it is a good idea to have a med kit designed for your dog. I also have two small kennels for them with bedding to put in the car; much easier travel and pack quickly than letting them have the run of the back compartment like they usually do. You may even want to consider a muzzle for your dog even if they don’t bite or wear one now and some places may require they have one on. I am also doing research on where to go that is pet friendly, just in case we can’t shelter in place and have to go somewhere safer. Look for shelters and hotels that are pet friendly or talk with friends who may be able to take them in just in case, like me, you may have to go to work in a disaster.
With children, take the time to explain to them what is going on. You don’t be all doom and gloom, but don’t sugar coat it too much either. Kids are very smart and can pick up on things, especially during stressful times. Have a plan and talk to them about it. Make a fire plan and explain it to them (Florida is known for its lightning strikes). I had one hit my tree out front last year and had to have the tree removed before it died and fell on my house. Show them how to open a window and climb out in case of a fire. If you live on an upper floor, consider an emergency rope ladder for your balcony. Show them how the fire alarms in your home operate and what to do when it goes off. Teach them how to use fire extinguishers properly or where the fire pull stations are if you live in an apartment or condo. Explain to them that their possessions are replaceable, and to just get to safety. If you rent, get renter’s insurance, trust me, I didn’t have it when I needed it, now I will NEVER be without it.
Have your kids help you with your emergency preparedness kit. They may think of items that you forgot about, again kids are smart. Mine is WAAAYYY smarter than me, has been since he was about 4 years old. Show them how to use the items that are in there so if they are ever alone when a storm hits, they know where supplies are and how to use them. Make some of the supplies fun or just specifically for them. A Go Berkey Water Bottle will assure they have clean drinking water, and they can decorate it anyway they like. Older children can help with taping windows and gathering trash cans and other items that can fly around in the wind and secure them inside. Teach them NEVER to play in running storm drains or ditches (even though it always looks like so much fun). As little as 6 inches of rushing flood water can sweep a person off their feet and a foot of rushing water can sweep away a car.
Have your children’s medical records accessible in case the unthinkable happens. My Body Passport is an excellent and easy way to accomplish this task and it is small enough to fit in any go bag. In emergencies, most of us don’t think as clearly as we would like and may forget details a My Body passport could help save a life.
Getting your children involved in emergency planning can be a fun and educational experience for all of you and it may help eliminate part of the stress that comes along with an emergency if your children are prepared and know what to do before they have to do it…
Wishing you all a very inactive hurricane and wildfire season!!!
Stay Southern Strong and Rocky Mountain Ready
Sandy runs Southern Readiness; a division of Rocky Mountain Readiness and is the Southeast Director of Operations.