Depending on the age of your children, you may have to start talking about emergency preparedness by defining what an emergency is. Children of all ages benefit from honest and direct information. Making your children aware of your family’s emergency plan helps them to respond more calmly to an emergency—and most importantly—it will help keep them safe.

Give Simple Definitions

A good way to explain the concept of “emergency” to children is simply by telling them that it is something unexpected where we must respond quickly to stay safe. It’s important to help your child know where to turn in an emergency. Let them know that there are people all around us who help keep us safe. These include police officers, firefighters, teachers, daycare providers, etc.

Familiarize Your Children with Emergency Personnel

Take your children on a field trip to the fire station and let them see what the firefighters look like with all their gear on. Try to see things from a child’s perspective. For example, firefighters in full gear might look scary to a frightened child and he or she might hide from them in an emergency.

Letting them know what to look for when they need help—whether they need a policeman, a nurse, their babysitter, or a firefighter—will help them know what to do if you aren’t there during an emergency.

Enlist Your Kids’ Help

Have your children help make your family emergency plan. Make a contact card for your kids and have them keep it with them in their backpack. This card should include their contact info and the information for their emergency contacts as well. Once your plan is set, practice the different parts of your plan at least twice a year.