Thursday, July 5, 2018

Parenting Pointers: RCRC Toolbox for Disaster Preparedness

Following a devastating hurricane season that highlighted the critical importance of disaster preparedness, a team of top emergency specialists and researchers have just released a comprehensive set of online tools to help parents and communities keep children safe in disasters.

With nearly two-thirds of American households lacking adequate disaster plans, the Resilient Children/Resilient Communities (RCRC) Toolbox provides the resources that parents and communities improve their abilities to help children quickly return to a sense of normalcy.

I had a chance to interview Erin Lauer, a Community Preparedness Manager with Save the Children’s US Programs, to learn how parents – with the help of the RCRC Toolbox – can better prepare children for when disaster strikes.

Why was the RCRC Toolbox created?

·         The RCRC Toolbox was created to solve a persistent problem that Save the Children has seen in its many years of responding to disasters here in the U.S.: there was no established model to help connect the parts of a community focused on children to those focused on keeping a community safe in a disaster. To truly protect children before, during and after a disaster, it takes a community-wide coalition that brings together these two groups – everyone from preschool directors to afterschool program staff, local police and firefighters, and elected officials at the local and state level. We know that can be a tall order, so the toolbox helps bring the conversation about protecting children in disasters to all of those groups, while also reminding us that so many of these professionals are also, ultimately, parents in the community who want the best for their children. With the tools and resources in the RCRC Toolbox, you can help prepare your community.

Why is it important for parents to talk to their kids about potential disasters?

·         It’s our job as parents and caregivers to teach children every day, whether it’s how to tie their shoes, how to swing on the swing set, or how to do long division. Disasters are no different: they are a part of life, and by teaching children about disasters, parents can take the scary out of the topic. Empower your children with information, and help them prepare and be proactive, and they can be as ready to tie their shoes as they are for the next tornado drill.

How can parents encourage preparedness without instilling fear in younger kids?

·         Young children are learning new things every day, and disaster preparedness can and should be one of those things. We help our children get ready for the important things in life on a daily basis: eating their vegetables so they grow up strong and healthy, staying buckled in their car seats so they’re safe if there’s an accident, or staying close to mom and dad at the park. We learn about disasters so we’re ready for them, the same way we are ready for other things that could happen tomorrow.

Especially for the youngest children, simple steps can make a big difference – learning how to identify themselves, and who the community helpers are who can help protect them and keep them safe, like nurses, teachers, firefighters and police officers.

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