New backpack stocked with pencils and notebooks? Check. New shoes? Check. Fresh wardrobe? Check. New haircut? Check. Emergency kit? Uh, maybe not.
In the hurry to prepare kids for the first day of school, there’s a lot to get ready. However, in the mix of shopping for school supplies and clothes, parents have an opportunity to help their children prepare for unexpected events they may encounter while at school with some helpful practices.
One of the most important things you can do to make it through emergencies is to adequately prepare. The more parents and their children can prepare together now how they’ll respond to emergencies, the more likely they are to remain calm and safe in the off chance something happens.
During the school year, children will spend about half of their waking hours in school. Here are a few tips to help prepare children for when they’re off to school for the day.
Prepare a small emergency kit to send in a child’s school bag
A simple emergency kit to last the school year could include the following:
- a small water bottle
- a few snacks (granola bars, dried fruit or nuts have a long shelf life)
- important medications to last 48 hours (with instructions for an adult to assist)
- alcohol wipes or hand sanitizer
- a few bandages and gauze pads
- a list of important phone numbers and names
- phone charger (if the child carries a phone to school)
- personal hygiene supplies
- a whistle
- a few dollars in cash
- and a small game (e.g. a deck of cards) to help pass the time.
It may seem like a lot to gather and carry, but parents can easily pack these items in one or two quart-sized bags for their child to carry in his or her school bag.
Prepare a plan and discuss it as a family
Although kids will most likely receive direction from school teachers and staff, children should know what to do beyond an initial “take cover” response. Address issues like:
- where to meet if the bus isn’t available.
- whom should be called if mom or dad can’t be reached.
- which friends or classmates could provide support in times of distress.
- the different types of emergencies and how a child could respond in different situations (earthquake, power outage, winter storm, active shooter, etc.).
Talk regularly about emergency preparedness, review plans and refresh supplies
Most children will never experience a significant emergency while at school. However, parents and children should be open about the possibilities and ensure plans to respond are understood and the supplies to help through the emergency are refreshed. Make emergency preparedness a casual discussion around the dinner table or while in the car.
If parents make the extra effort to add “emergency supplies and planning” to their checklist of back-to-school tasks, their children can be dressed – and prepped – for a year of success.