Stormy weather or natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tornadoes, often scare any child, but these events can be magnified for children with special needs. Most parents understand these disasters, but are you prepared? Check out these tips for disaster preparedness.
1. Plan Ahead
Think about the possibility of disasters in your area, and ask yourself any possible questions you can think of. For example, you might be at work and your child at school, so you will want to answer questions like “how will we find each other?,” “where will we go?,” and “what will we do if we don’t have water or electricity?” Write down your questions and make a checklist for disaster preparedness. Follow a checklist, such as this one, before a disaster happens:
- Do you have a care plan and list of medications?
- Do you have a two-weeks supply of medications?
- Do you have backups for medical equipment that requires electricity?
- Does your doctor have suggestions for an ideal place to keep your child during the disaster?
- Is there a disaster plan in place for when your child is at school, home, or other location?
- Do you have a disaster supply kit?
- Does your family have a designated meeting place should you become separated?
- Does your child know what emergency workers wear?
- Do you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home?
- Do you have fire extinguishers, generators, or other resources?
- Have you discussed your disaster plan with your neighbor?
It is important to meet with your family and explain to your child what can happen during a disaster. Explain what your child should do in given situations, and help them understand basic information, such as how to identify emergency workers or how to ask for help. Talk in words your child will understand, and give your children the information they will need. Meet with your neighbor to discuss your plan and how you might be able to help each other during and after a disaster.
Create a disaster supply kit, which should include water, food, first aid supplies, tools (flashlights, utensils, radio, batteries, and so forth), clothing, entertainment, important documents, and personal hygiene items. Creating this disaster kit is key for disaster preparedness.
Stay in a safe place, such as your home or shelter, during a disaster. Turn on and listen to the radio to be kept informed of important updates.
Practice calm. You might want to practice calming procedures with your child, even if there is no disaster. If you are calm during a disaster, it will help translate to your child. Follow through with your disaster plan — if you have follow through with a disaster preparedness plan, you will have all the right tools in place.
Check your home for items that might have been damaged during the disaster that could cause a hazard. Follow any directions from safety officials.
If you follow these tips for a disaster plan, you and your special needs child will be better able to handle when disaster strikes. Visit this Disaster Preparedness checklist and the Autism society preparedness tips for more details about disaster plans.
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