Does your family have an emergency response plan? We thought ours did. We talked and talked about what to do in an emergency. Our kids gave us the correct answers when we asked them what to do in case of a fire. Then, we had a fire drill at night after the kids had gone to bed. Only one kid out of three knew what to do.
The youngest ran around giggling saying she didn’t know what to do and the oldest didn’t know where the emergency meeting place was once she got outside.
I also had to tell them that the noise they were hearing was the fire alarm and they needed to get up for a fire drill. They didn’t know what the fire alarm sounded like! I mean, they’ve heard it several times before when I’ve, ahem,
burnt overcooked dinner but, in bed, asleep, they didn’t know what it was. They said they thought we were working on something in the garage.
It’s a scary thought that they weren’t prepared for a fire. Do you have an emergency response plan that everyone knows how to follow?
Creating a Family Emergency Response Plan
Make a list of possible emergencies. If you live in the Midwest you don’t have to plan for a hurricane but you should have a tornado plan. Do you live in a flood zone or an area with a chance of ice storms that could take out your electricity?
Write a plan for each emergency. Make a detailed plan with jobs for each person. For a fire or other structural emergency, make sure that each person knows several escape routes from the house.
Quiz each person on each emergency. We like to ask questions at random times, in the car or over dinner, and we ask each kid what they would do in different situations.
Have an emergency meeting place outside of the home. We made our emergency meeting spot in the far corner of our yard and told the kids to cross to the neighbors if it were still dangerous there or if my husband and I weren’t right behind them.
Have emergency bags created for everyone. Each person in your house should have an emergency bag and know where it is located. They also need to know when to grab it and when to leave it. No one needs to grab an emergency bag during a fire. This may seem like common sense to you but for kids it is best to spell it out.
Have regular emergency drills. Have random fire or tornado drills so that your family actually has to walk through the emergency process. We realized several problems by physically going through the drill. For one, our youngest didn’t know where to meet up outside even though she had told us the information just a few weeks prior. Waking up in the night for a surprise drill is disorienting, just like a real emergency, and your family may not remember what they are supposed to do. Actually going through the motions will help your family follow your emergency response plan.