Thursday, October 24, 2013

What Happens When a Natural Disaster Strikes? Are you ready?

Do you remember last October, when a tremendous storm hit the East Coast? It rained and flooded and made a huge mess? In most parts of Maryland, Virginia, and DC, where I’m located, we had the inconvenience of power outages, school closings, and Halloween being put on hold. Further north, homes and lives were devastated when Sandy dumped massive amounts of rain on New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. I remember friends in New York packing up their families and relocating until the water subsided or not being able to get to parts of the city because it was flooded. When I was there in the spring, someone mentioned how some of the subway stations were still being repaired from the water damage.

And still, there are families trying to recover from the damage that Sandy did to their homes and to their lives. And the littlest of these is the children.

Save the Children is a national organization that works to make sure that our children are safe in natural disasters. Whether Hurricane Katrina, or Sandy, or tornadoes here in the United States, or tsunamis or earthquakes around the world.  They recognize that the mental and physical needs of children in traumatic situations are different than those of adults.  They are purposed to specifically respond to the children’s needs.

Save the Children wants families to be prepared for a natural disaster in their area.  What happens if tonight, torrential storms sweep through your city and you have to evacuate your home? Are you ready to go?  What happens if an earthquake shakes your hometown while you are at work? Is your child’s school or childcare provider prepared to take care of your child until you can safely retrieve them? Does your state meet the four basic standards to protect children from disaster in schools and child care?  Save the Children’s recently released 2013 disaster report card reveals that most states still fail to meet these standards.

Is your child's daycare or school prepared for an emergency?
Save the Children is calling on Americans to take action to protect children – by preparing their own families and by supporting improved policies.

Downloadable family and caregiver emergency checklists are available through the organization’s Get Ready. Get Safe. initiative.  Visitors can also find their state’s disaster report card results with an option to write their governor and a video showing Sandy’s impact on children.
Pack your emergency kit and keep it somewhere easy to reach.
Download and print the checklists for your home, and share with your caregiver, day care provider, or school. Then take the next step and actually make the emergency kits for your home, so you will be prepared in case of an emergency. I have mine packed in a plastic storage box in my garage; I've included a flashlight and an old plug into the wall phone, in case the power goes out but phone service is still available.  Now, writing this post, it's my own reminder to go check my supplies and make sure the kids haven't been playing flashlight tag or stole all the batteries.

Maybe, hopefully, you won’t suffer a tragedy like Katrina or Sandy in your area. Perhaps, it will just be an ice storm when winter hits. But when the power goes out or the roads are closed, don’t you want to be ready?

Information, photos, and logos for this post provided by Save the Children.

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