Disaster Preparedness for Children
Prepared children make better prepared families and communities. Involving your children in the planning and preparing process will help the children cope with disasters.
Children experience trauma and fear during a natural disaster.
If they know what to do during a disaster because they have practiced family disaster drills, they will be better off. When parents are calm, children calm down more quickly.
Before a disaster, parents can:
- Familiarize yourself with the emergency response plans of schools and/or daycare your children attend.
- Find out if the school/daycare will keep your kids or send them home in an emergency.
- Decide if your child gets into your home if you are not there.
- Decide if your children take care of themselves or if a neighbor takes care of them.
- Develop and practice a family disaster plan.
- Teach children how to recognize danger signals.
- Explain how to call for help (911).
- Help children memorize important family information.
- Help children memorize their street address, not the PO Box.
- Include children's toys and special foods in 72-HOUR KIT.
After a disaster, children are most afraid the disaster will happen again, someone will be hurt or killed, or they will be separated from family and left alone.
Parents can help minimize their children's fears by:
- Keeping the family together; do not leave children with relatives or friends - take your children with you.
- Calmly and firmly explain the situation and your plans.
- Talk to your children at eye level.
- Encourage children to talk about the disaster and ask questions.
- Include children in recovery activities by giving them chores that will help them feel they are helping things get back to normal.
- Reassure children with firmness and love.
- Sympathize with and resolve their anxieties.
- Hold your children and spend more time with them.
Other Resources for Children:
Know the Protective Actions
Teach children the protective actions for each of the disaster types. Visit the Protective Actions page to learn more.
Start a Youth Preparedness Program
Anyone can start a youth preparedness program, or join an existing one. The Youth Preparedness Catalogue is a great place to start if you are looking to implement a youth preparedness program or activity.
Building a youth preparedness program takes a lot of work. However, many resources are available to help you with the process. We’ll walk you through seven steps to implementing a youth preparedness program, and provide checklists and workbooks to help along the way. Many of these resources are available in both Spanish and English.
Children make up about 25 percent of the population of the United States and are the future of our communities. While they face unique vulnerabilities, they can also play an important role during emergencies. However, many programs do not consider children in their planning. It is important that children know what to do in an emergency and that all disaster planning, preparedness, response, and recovery efforts include children’s unique needs and abilities.
Youth preparedness is important to the resilience of any community. As the leader of a youth preparedness program, you are supporting the preparedness effort within your community.
- Youth Preparedness Catalog: Disaster Preparedness Education Programs and Resources
- Implementing a Community-Based Program
- Youth Preparedness Program Implementation Checklist
- Youth Preparedness Program Implementation Workbook
To create a successful program, you will need the proper resources. This funding guide outlines a four-step approach to securing funding, including identifying the resources you need, engaging potential funders and keeping records of donations.
There are risks and liabilities to consider when putting together a youth preparedness program—just as there would be with any other program or activity. These documents present an approach for developing a risk management plan.
Resilient Children Resilient Communities Toolbox
Building Child-Focused Community Preparedness. Children rely on many people and organizations across a community, every day. Preparing these institutions makes our children and communities more resilient.
Ready 2 Help Game
Play this game and learn how to stay safe, stay calm, get help, give info and give care.
Ready 2 Help Game
Disaster Master Game
Disaster Master has 7 levels with decision making scenarios in a comic book like game.
Build a Kit Game
Gather supplies needed to prepare for an emergency with this online game.
Build a Kit Game
Red Cross Pedro the Penguin Program
Prepare with Pedro with the American Red Cross books and activities for children.
Pedro the Penguin
Tommy the Turtle
The South Dakota Office of Emergency Management has developed children’s books featuring Tommy the Turtle to educate kids on disaster preparedness. These books urge them to be prepared and spark communication among families to plan for emergencies.
Tommy the Turtle