This has been a crazy week for us. First the Coronavirus outbreak that shut down almost everything. Then we had a 5.7 Earthquake and hundreds of scary aftershocks that have continued throughout this week. While you can’t take away the emergencies, you can prepare your family to be calm and ready for whatever may come. Here are a few of the things we have done to help our family prepare.
Have family preparedness drills and create a family emergency plan.
- Have a set location to meet outside of the home. Ours is across the street in the open space. When they were little it was a light pole near the garage.
- Practice makes perfect! Have lots of drills with the kids. We’ve found a great time is during our family council time.
- Practice what you would do in each room if an emergency came.
- It’s okay to talk about it. It’s like putting on a seat belt. You many never need it, but it will protect you if you do.
- Draw a map of the house and where you would go to exit if needed in each room. We used red arrows to show all the possible exits.
- The kids have a code word to text us if they are ever in an uncomfortable situation and need to get out fast! Parties, or other times when they feel unsafe or are bored even.
- Have a designated Grandparent or Aunt or uncle that the kids can call if they can’t get a hold of you.
- Teach the kids basic first aid skills. How to treat simple cuts. When to ice or wrap something.
- Keep ice packs in the freezer. They have cute little kid ones. These are amazing at helping the kids feel better.
- Lock up all medicines. As they got older, we had a rule where they couldn’t take anything without asking first.
- Have a first aid kit and show what is in there and how you use it.
- Keep lots of Band-aids on hand. It’s amazing how a simple Band-Aid can make everything feel better!
- As they get older you can teach them to make splints or how to move injured people. Make it fun. Have relays or competitions.
- You can take a first aid class together with your family.
- Keep an extra bottle of all of your pain medications and Prescription meds.
72 hour kits. (To grab and go in the event of an emergency).
- We have our 72 hour kits in big bins that we can just grab and go. The food bin is in our garage and the misc one is in our office. Find a place to put them where it is convenient for you to grab and go.
- Get an old jacket for every family member that can stay in the bin. You can also put old shoes, socks, clothes, hats, gloves. Sort through the kids clothes and find something worn or stained.
- The food bin has water for each of us for 72 hours, and food for 2 days. We have a bin of other supplies we might need as well. Here are some examples: Here and Here. Try to buy food your kids will eat and rotate every year so you are always ready.
Food storage ideas.
- Have a good amount of extra food in your home. You never know when stores will run out of things like toilet paper. I try to keep at least one extra of each item we use regularly. I also try to buy cases of things I use often.
- We have a room designated for our food storage. I’ve trained my kids to write it on the grocery list if they bring up the last of something.
- Toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, paper plates, cups, utensils.
- Garbage bags, cleaning supplies, laundry detergents.
- Proteins like tuna, chicken, beans, chilis, soups, peanut butter, etc.
- Condiments like Ketchup, mustard, ranch dressing, BBQ sauce.
- Baking goods: Flour, sugar, oatmeal, syrup, honey, spices, cake mix, muffin mixes, Almond milk, etc.
- Canned or bottle fruits, snacks, cookies, chips, cereals, etc.
- Water-As much as you can store…bottles, gallons, tubs.
- We have some long-term food storage like MREs and things like that but I have found that buying a little extras of things your family will eat is the most effective way.
- Rotate food storage regularly and check dates. We always put new stuff in the back and move things forward. If something is going to expire soon we bring it up so that the kids will eat it.
- Replace all of the batteries yearly in all of the fire alarms in your home. Otherwise they are sure to go off at 3:00 in the morning!
- Make sure that you have a carbon Monoxide alarm in each area.
- Check windows in bedrooms. Do the kids have a way to get out? We had to show our kids how to get out of the basement window wells and remove the window well covers. Also, have ladders in all the window wells or a way for them to get down if they are on a 2nd story.
- Stop, drop and roll. This is a great one to practice. Crawl around, touch the door to see if it is hot, act it out so that they will remember.
- Put valuables in a fireproof box.
- Have a place to meet when they get out of the house.
- Check all of your plugs. Are there too many plugs or extension cords?
- Be careful with outdoor fires and fireworks. Make sure to go over rules and how close they can get before hand. We also keep a bucket of water near the fireworks to put sparklers.
- We have a fire extinguisher in every bathroom and under the kitchen sink.
- Home Fire Safety link.
- Drop, cover, and hold on. I have been doing earthquake drills since I was a kid. When the shaking started last week, it was very natural for me to get under the table without thinking about it. My kids climbed under their desks. Practicing ahead really helped us know what to do!
- Keep sturdy shoes by your bed. I keep my hiking shoes in a bin right under my bed. Great storage and ready to go if there is a major earthquake. We had lots of broken glass in the family room.
- Keep a flashlight and extra batteries by each bed.
- Check your big furniture and water heaters. Are they strapped down?
- Look at your shelves. Do you have breakable objects that would hurt someone if they fell down? We lost a few picture frames and vases.
- Have an earthquake drill. Talk about what you would do in each room of the house. Stay on their beds or get under a sturdy piece of furniture. I heard someone say that inside door frames aren’t as sturdy as the outdoor ones.
- Get earthquake insurance. Regular homeowner’s insurance does not cover earthquakes. We signed up a few years ago and it gives me a little peace knowing any damages will be covered.
- Earthquake preparedness link.
Stranger Danger-online and outside.
- We have a rule that they don’t open/unlock the door for anyone (even if they know them) without permission. One of our neighbors was in the shower and some guy rang the doorbell and told the kids to unlock the door and they did. They didn’t open it just unlocked it.
- We’ve talked to our kids about being aware of their surroundings when they are out. If something or someone doesn’t “feel” right-get away and tell someone quick.
- Have a secret word that you would tell a stranger if they needed to pick up your kids. They don’t get into the car of a stranger unless they have that secret word…no matter what they tell them.
- Talk about online predators. Be sure they know not to give any personal information online. Monitor screen time and talk to them about what they are doing online.
- Have a conversation about pornography and what to do if they see something inappropriate online. I really like this video explaining what it is.
- Never leave your young kids unsupervised. I am amazed how many kids I see in shopping carts with no adults around them. I guess they don’t move if they are watching a show, but still stay with them.
Safety around the house.
- Think of things in your home that may not be safe for kids. Warn them of potential dangers.
- Matches and lighters are put away and are only for mom and dad to use.
- Stay away from hot oven and stoves.
- Check your water temperature. Is it so hot it can burn when turned on?
- Make sure that there is a phone for the kids at home. We still have a home phone but a charged cell phone would work too. We also let them get a flip phone when they go to Jr high or when my son was the last one in elementary school. I wanted them to always be able to get a hold of me in the event of an emergency.
- Tell about being electrocuted if they stick things in the socket. Our 5 year old daughter stuck one small metal key for her journal in each hole. She got a good shock. We didn’t think that was something we’d have to say.
- Keep small objects away from small kids. One daughter stuck a small Polly Pocket shoe up her nose and we didn’t know about it until she sneezed it out. YUCK!
- Put away any sharp objects. Teach your kids about knife safety.
- Don’t hide in the dryer.
- Medicines and pain medications are locked up. We told our kids that only mom and dad could get them. Now that they are older they still ask what to take for this pain or that. Funny (but safe).
- Cleaning supplies are put up high where the kids can’t reach them.
- Meet your neighbors and give your kids a list of neighbors to call in an emergency if you aren’t there. (We actually programmed them into their phones so they would have them.)
- Wash hands when they come home from school, go to the bathroom, before dinner, etc.
- Keep floor and walkways clear. Nothing like running around crazy and tripping. Plus messes are more of a fire hazard.
- Keep doors locked to your home and cars.
- Use childproof latches and door handles. We had to rechildproof our home when we had our 3rd child. He was so curious and could get into just about anything. We added flap locks on top of the doors, magnetic child locks, etc.
- Teach them HOW to call 9-1-1. We had to tell them that you have to push the talk button afterwards on our home phone.
- Teach the little ones their full names, address, and telephone numbers.
Earthquake anxiety is a real thing! We have experienced this a lot in our home this week. Here are a few tips I learned this week while trying not to totally freak out.
- We have experienced sleeplessness, nervousness (especially at night), lack of focus and concentration, assuming everything is an earthquake (trucks, thunder, etc), and we have endless questions and still feel so much uncertainty.
- Really try to listen to those struggling with anxiety. Validate their feelings, stay open, be kind, caring, and patient.
- Let them hug you all they need. My kids stayed right by us for the first few days. They are still struggling to go downstairs alone or sleep in their own beds.
- Look for distractions to take your mind off it. For us, getting outside has been such a soothing balm. We’ve been taking daily walks, bike rides, and doing chalk art. We can’t really go very far since everyone is social distancing right now.
- Keep your routines. Continue to take care of yourself, exercise, eat healthy, etc.
- Count your blessings and focus on the positives. We’ve talked a lot about how blessed we are to have electricity, water, heat, that our house is still standing, and we have extra food and supplies. Many of our neighbors were not as fortunate.
- Prayer has been one of the most powerful tools during these difficult times. It is one of the best ways for me to calm my fears and fill us with peace.
“If ye are prepared, Ye shall not fear.”Doctrine & Covenants 38:30
I truly believe that you can prepare your family to be ready for any troubles that will come. It will help you have less fear and be safer in your home. What things have you taught your children to be safer at home?