With summer winding down and children heading back to school, it’s time to find our new routine. As the kids head into their classroom, they will be learning not only their grade level curriculum, but also safety protocols for emergencies that might happen during school hours. Just as our students learn the plan for fire drills and what to do if there is an earthquake at school, we also need to think about similar plans for at home. If someone in your home has special healthcare needs, this can require additional planning.
As a family, consider each of the scenarios below and create a family action plan so you’ll be ready to respond in case of an emergency.
Thinking ahead for loss of power can save you from scrambling in the dark. Know where your flashlights are as well as back-up batteries. If you have medications that require refrigeration, keeping the fridge closed as much as possible will help keep them cool. For those who require power for medical equipment, some families purchase personal generators to ensure their equipment has a dedicated backup power source. For prolonged outages, look for community resources, such as charging stations, and options for medical equipment power. Individuals sensitive to the heat may benefit from a cooling station - check with your health department for locations.
CalFire recommends taking specific steps for prior to evacuation, including having a Wildfire Action Plan for your family. They also have an evacuation plan checklist and tips for the emergency supply kit/evacuation bag. The smoke from fires can be a trigger for those with breathing problems, so make sure you have well-fitting masks to prevent inhaling the poor air quality during an evacuation. Ensure you have not only over-the-counter medications for your kit, but also any prescription medications or inhalers.
Similar to fires, it is recommended to have an Earthquake Emergency Plan as well as a supply kit. Thankfully, many items recommended for emergency kits are nonperishable and can be stocked and ready for when you need them. In your home, evaluate heavy furniture and anything that is hanging to make sure it is secured and won't become a hazard. For recommendations on navigating earthquake safety with a disability, check out this handy resource from FEMA: https://www.fema.gov/fact-sheet/key-earthquake-safety-tips-people-disabilities
No matter the natural disaster, having a plan can help parents stay calm and in control despite the surrounding chaos. If you have recently moved, or haven't had a recent family meeting to review your action plans, please take the time to do so with your children. As a mom, I hope we never need our emergency kit and plans, yet if we do, I know we are ready!
About the Author
Hailey Nelson, MD, FAAP, IBCLC is a complex care pediatrician at Valley Children’s Charlie Mitchell Children’s Center. Dr. Nelson enjoys working with children of all ages and abilities and is especially passionate about providing the best possible care to medically fragile children and their families. As the ambassador for Safe Kids Central California, she is a vocal advocate for children’s wellness and regularly appears in news media discussing pediatric healthcare.