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BellaOnline's Missing and Exploited Children Editor

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Parent Guide for Emergency Planning


Have you given thought to how you would handle an emergency? Everyday on the news there is another tragic story of a family emergency. A family of five perishes in a house fire; a child disappears from a shopping mall. If your child disappears in a store or mall, do you know to how or when to call a Code Adam?

Children of all ages need to know exactly what to do in an emergency. Has your family sat down to discuss an emergency evacuation plan? This is the plan of escape if your home is on fire or has a gas leak? One of the most important decisions a family can make is where to meet outside the home, in what is called a safe place.

Home Evacuation Plan
The safe place should be visible from the front door of the home, yet away for the street and driveway. Preferably the safe place is located in a neighbor’s yard. If there is a fire, everyone should leave the home and meet at the safe meeting place. Once out of the home children need to know never to go back inside.

Ask children where the family should meet outside the home if there is a fire. Explain it has to be away form doors, windows, and the street where fire trucks and firefighters might be working.

Active Listening
When talking with children, it is important to listen to what children say in response to questions asked. This is active listening. With active listening, parents will get a better response than simply telling children what the rules are in the home. This works especially well with older children.

Aluminum Escape Ladder
If you have a two-story house, make sure to buy an emergency escape ladder for any room that does not have a roof access, and drops directly to the ground. These aluminum ladders hook to the windows and are live savers if there is no other exit from the house. Fire spreads quickly, there may not be time to wait for the fire department to arrive before needing to evacuate through a window.

Role Playing and Fire Drills
Parents hold the key to a family’s safety. By educating children about how to respond in emergencies, we are helping them learn how to survive by staying safe and calm. This process called Role-playing is invaluable in the end. Schedule fire drills for your family. Practice getting each family member out of the house.

Teach children to tell a grownup if they see fire or smoke immediately. Next, teach kids to get out of the house and never stop for pets or toys. Once some one is out of the burning home, they need to know never to reenter a burning building or home. People, who go back in a fire, almost never make it out a second time. Ask a neighbor to call 911.

Safety in Public Places
Children should find a store clerk, or another mother with children to ask for help if separated from a parent. Teach children they are never to leave a store with anyone. If anyone grabs them and starts to take them out of the store, children are to yell “Stranger! You are not my mom! You are not my dad!”

Have you ever watched a man carry a kicking, screaming toddler out of a store and cringed? Cringed, not because the child was screaming, but because you were hoping, he is the father and not a kidnapper.

Dangers of Public Restrooms
Finally, beware that public rest rooms are dangerous places for young children to frequent alone. A bathroom is a perfect place for a pedophile to hang out and catch a young child alone. If you have not yet noticed, the bathrooms are usually in isolated and back corners of malls and stores.

Children should go to the rest room in pairs, never alone, unless you see the bathroom door directly. My son is 9 and he is still required to go to the women’s bathroom with me and his sister, unless he is out with his father or my husband.

Two-way Radios or Walkie Talkies
Two-way radios, or walkie-talkies, are a great and inexpensive alternative to cell phones to communicate with your children when on an outing. Children can also use one when they walk to a friend’s home, although if they have them children can also carry their cell phone on them.

Cell Phone Downfall
Cell phones do not always work in malls and stores. Two-way radios are easier and faster to use than cell phones. Kids can keep the two-way radio on while they are at their friend’s home. This way a parent can call them at the push of a button. Two-way radios work well in the backyard and at parks. Communication between parents and children is easy, once it becomes a habit, if as parents we give our children the correct tools to do the job right.

Finally, safety comes with planning and planning provides a sense of safety. In order to be safe a family needs to communicate what the expectations are for each family member in a particular situation. This is one time it pays to discuss as a family what to do ahead of time, as each life may depend on the other people’s reactions. Yet, once discussed it is important not to set it aside and forget what was discussed, practice the plans developed. Schedule fire drills on a regular day every month, and practice getting out of the home, your lives may depend on it.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Erika Lyn Smith. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Erika Lyn Smith. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Erika Lyn Smith for details.

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