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How to Create a Family Emergency Plan.

disaster emergency plan special needs hurricane weather radar photo
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Emergency Action Plan Templates

Seven months. Imagine being away from your child for 7 months. Not knowing where they are or who they are with. That is how long it took for the last child to be reunited with their parents after Hurricane Katrina.

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When is Hurricane Season?

Hurricane season is usually June 1 to November 30. But, September starts this weekend. And, typically it is our busiest hurricane month. I know here in the mid-Atlantic, we got a bit complacent with these kinds of things, didn’t we?

We saw bad storms in the south, empathized with them but never thought it could happen here. And it did. Katrina was the catalyst for Save the Children to become a leader in helping American families prepare for disasters.

save the children hurricane separation
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Because Superstorm Sandy hit such a densely populated area, we learned a lot from it. Like how unprepared we are for such storms! Do you have a plan for your family? If something hit your home in the middle of the night or the middle of the day, what is your reunification plan?

Does your school have a plan? Have you asked? For a moment, when I picture my defenseless, non-verbal 13-year-old lost in the middle of a disaster, my stomach tightens and my pulse races. What would we do? If another September 11 happened today, right here, right near you, are you ready?

Different Kids, Different Emergency Needs

As a special needs parent, we have extra responsibilities depending on our child’s disability. You should notify your state and local agencies if your child is a high priority rescue. You can call them and ask. Some things that would make your child high priority would be needing oxygen or electricity for equipment, or frequent medication that is life-saving (seizures, diabetes).

Save the Children is trying to get the word out to families. Have a plan. And they have the resources for you. You can use them at home and share with your school or daycare.

I’m not going to rant and rave about the importance of one or tell sad stories of some children who could not find their parents in Sandy’s aftermath. I’m just asking one thing this week-make a plan. Here are the resources you need.

Emergency Action Plan Templates

Please note, this post is several years old. And, over time, Save the Children keeps changing the location of their links. I update it regularly, but if a link is not working, let me know.

Disaster and Emergency tips for Schools and Daycare

Planning how you will communicate with parents will greatly facilitate the reunification process. Families expect to be quickly notified when an emergency happens, but effective communication should also happen before and after an emergency.

  • First, share information about your program’s emergency plan.
  • Second, routinely update parent/guardian contact numbers.
  • Third, plan how you will alert parents/guardians in an actual emergency.
  • Telephone service may be disrupted during an emergency. Prepare a back-up plan, perhaps asking a local radio or television station to broadcast your program’s emergency status.
  • Become familiar with the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System and the National Emergency Child Locator Center and the American Red Cross systems. Both have been developed to help reunite families who are separated during disaster.

Make an ICE card.

Once you’ve filled it out, print it, and you’re done! Put it in a safe spot that is with your child every day, such as a smaller pocket in their backpack or lunch box. Make sure that school personnel are aware of it, and of course, encourage them to do it as well. Then, should anything happen….you’re one step closer to being reunited.

Disaster and Emergency Plan Templates and Checklists:

Disaster-checklist-for-school-daycare


Disaster-Checklist-1


emergency-contact-cards


disaster-supplies-checklist


About Get Ready, Get Safe:

Get Ready Get Safe is a pioneering Save the Children initiative designed to help US communities prepare to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us in times of crisis – our children. We help generate child-focused emergency plans, provide emergency training and ensure emergency resources are in place before crisis strikes. We keep kids safe, securing the future we share. Creating a safe haven for children to work through their emotions. Providing the coping skills to help reduce the effects of disasters on young minds. Because we want our kids to just be kids, no matter what happens.

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Author’s Note: I previously served as a Fellow for the Save the Children Get Ready, Get Safe program. This post was done as a part of that effort. It is periodically updated to check for links and accuracy.

disaster emergency plan special needs hurricane weather radar photo
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