As 2014 begins, resolve to prepare your family for potential disasters

Resolve to be Ready resources can help parents prepare children for a variety of unexpected natural disasters and emergencies.

Ready is a national campaign co-sponsored by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the Ad Council, which offers a variety of emergency preparedness tips, tools and resources for dealing with both natural and man-made disasters.

For 2014, their Resolve to be Ready campaign focuses on families, urging parents to make disaster preparedness a year-round family activity. Noting that roughly half of all Americans make New Years’s resolutions and only 60 percent of American households have a family emergency plan, they suggest parents include children in discussions when making their family plan.

Deciding who to call, where to meet and what to pack are the three most important topics to consider. Selecting a family member outside the immediate area to be the call recipient is recommended instead of those who may be equally impacted by the emergency. Be sure to review and update your family emergency plan yearly or more often, if changes occur in emergency contact information or meeting place.

Their website offers materials for parents, activities for children and curriculum for school teachers, with four age-appropriate levels spanning grades 1-12. The site includes a downloadable family emergency communication plan, emergency kit checklists and guidelines to assist parents in continuing their preparedness activities throughout the year. There is an adult and a child version of the family communication plan and emergency kit checklists. One simple click converts the website and documents to Spanish.

Youth are urged to carry their documents in a backpack, school notebook or wallet while parents are reminded to keep copies in a purse, briefcase, car or office. They suggest children pack a favorite stuffed animal or non-electronic toy (as power may be an issue) to help them feel safe and secure during the emergency situation. Likewise, adults are reminded to pack essential medications for family members and consider pets, elderly family members, infants and those with special needs when making family emergency communications plans and assembling emergency kits.

Because phone lines can be overloaded during an emergency, it is suggested that texting may be the preferred method to contact family members during an emergency. For those who have a cell phone, store the important numbers to call on your phone or, if possible, memorize them.

Disaster fact sheets are available to help children learn more about what to do before, during, and after a great variety of disasters. Parents can view recommended age-appropriate responses to questions children may pose during or after a disaster.

For more information about emergency preparedness, visit Michigan State University Extension,, or Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN). Make it one of your New Year’s resolutions to protect your family by preparing them for potential disasters. 

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