Disaster, accidents, and emergency situations aren’t predictable. Whether you’re hunkering down in preparation of a hurricane, treating and transporting an injured child, or have just been t-boned by a sedan–the first step is always to try and remain calm. Children are extremely aware of the feelings and behaviors of their parents or guardians. Panicked, irrational thinking and behaviors, such as screaming or crying, will only frighten a child and compound the anxious situation. Well, how do you remain calm? The scout motto is a good place to start: Always be prepared.
Take a look at a few tips below that can help you and your family be prepared for a emergency.
- Keep emergency phone numbers posted beside the phone or programmed into your kid’s mobile phone.
- Keep emergency medication organized and accessible (asthma inhalers, epi-pens, etc)
- Create an emergency plan–to begin, as yourself a few questions. What exit will you use? Which exit is the backup if the first one is blocked? Where will you meet if you get separated? Are there emergency plans in place at your children’s school or daycare? If not, offer to help create one.
- Teach children, as young as 2, what calling 911 does and to only use it if adults are in trouble. While a toddler can be taught to dial a phone, but they may not be able to answer too many questions in a meaningful way. Teach young children to dial and say “help.”
- Teach your children to remember their last name, home address, and the phone number of the family’s emergency contact. Ask them to recite this important information often.
- Review on a regular basis when it is appropriate to dial 911, what to do in the case of a fire, and which people can be trusted if they need help (emergency contacts)
- Renew first aid certifications every 3 years
- Run through your families fire drill every other month
- Practice CPR and first aid techniques and procedures with your family
- Review family meeting places – both in the neighborhood (the big tree at the Thompson’s house) and in the community (library, courthouse)
During an emergency
Again, above all keep calm. Obviously, that’s easier said than done. Panic engages our fight, flight, or freeze response and blood is immediately diverted from your brain and digestive system, and redirected to your heart, lungs, and legs–making it more difficult to think clearly.
- First, make sure everyone is OK and don’t panic
- Get to a safe place
- Talk to your kids about positive things. If you see emergency personnel (police, paramedics, firefighters) around the scene, explain their individual tasks and talk about their uniform, the sirens, helping people–basically, point out all the ways people are helping.
An Emergency Center or E.R. Visit
Distraction is a huge advantage when it involves a young child or family member who has been hurt. Another useful tool is lightening the mood for the child, while you still concentrate on making sure everyone is safe.
- Bring along the child’s prized security item–a stuffed animal or “blankie”
- If the situation allows it and if children are old enough, let them help prepare for an E.R. visit. Kids as young as 4 are capable of gathering some personal items to take along (books, crayons, extra clothes)
- Encourage children to talk. Younger children may not know quite how to express their fears and feelings verbally, so it is extremely important for adults to listen attentively.
- Most of all, make sure to give lots of hugs and verbal reassurance.