Summer is right around the corner. And that means that for many families, kids are spending more time at home. And for older kids, this may mean more time spent by themselves. But would they be prepared if a disaster happened? There are plenty of potential problems that can happen at home – big and small. Here are a few things you may want to go over with your children before summer officially arrives – to keep them and your home safe all summer long.
Related: Are you ready for a home emergency?
Find safety supplies.
Do you have a spot in your home for safety and emergency supplies? If you don’t already, work with your child to put together an emergency readiness kit. Include flashlights, batteries, a list of important phone numbers and information, and even bottled water. If the power goes out or supplies are necessary, your child will easily be able to find them. Ask your kids:
- Do you know where to find safety supplies?
This seems simple, but it’s worth reviewing with your kids regularly. If an emergency takes place, kids need to be able to find a phone and dial 9-1-1. (And as a bonus, make sure your kids know their home address and phone number to explain to the operator.) Kids should understand that 9-1-1 is for times when someone is in danger or seriously injured – this means that calling isn’t a game or joke. And your child should always be somewhere safe before calling. Ask your kids:
- Do you know where the phone is located?
- How do you call the police or fire department?
- What are reasons you would call 9-1-1?
- What is our home address?
- What’s mom or dad’s phone number?
Exit the home in case of fire.
At school, kids are familiar with fire drills and escape paths. It’s an important aspect of disaster readiness. The same should be true at home. You can even make a game of this – plan regular fire drills and test your children about their knowledge about the best exits from different points in the home. You could even ask your kids to make maps of the home with exit plans that can be displayed on the fridge. By making this a regular part of your family routine, your kids will be more likely to follow through with the plan if a fire actually happens. Ask your kids:
- How do you know a fire is happening?
- What do you do if you hear the fire alarm?
- What should you do if there is smoke in the air?
- What should you do before you open any doors?
- How would you exit the house if you were in your upstairs bedroom/the kitchen/the basement?
Find shelter during severe storms.
In the spring and summer, the Quad Cities is often hit with severe storms, wind and tornadoes. Your kids should understand where to go when a severe storm hits – away from doors and windows, in the lowest level of your home. (Basements and interior rooms without windows are the best options.) Ask your kids:
- Where is the best place in the home to go when there’s a storm or tornado warning or watch?
Shut off the water.
Leaks and broken pipes can cause serious water damage and even lead to mold. Talk with older kids about how to turn off the water into the house or to the sink. (In the basement or under the sink.) Ask your kids:
- Where do you turn off the water in the house?
- How do you turn off water to the faucet?
- Why would you turn it off?
Prevent disasters before they happen.
Many home disaster risks not be clear to your children. So talk about what they are allowed to do – and what they aren’t allowed to do. And make sure your child knows to tell an adult if they see something unsafe at home or outside. Ask your kids:
- Are you allowed to use the microwave or oven/stove on your own? (If not, where can you find snacks and drinks?)
- Should you ever touch wires, outlets or other electrical equipment?
- What should you do if you see something dangerous in the house?
The bottom line
You want your kids to stay safe this summer with more time at home. With a little conversation and preparation, it can be a safe and fun summer. Because even the youngest kids can help prevent and protect themselves when disasters happen.