Most of us are often so busy we hardly think about things like preparing for natural disasters (aren’t there enough little disasters to deal with every day?). However, it’s important to learn what to do in the event of a disaster so your family is always prepared!
This Tuesday, September 23rd, take your kids to the 2014 Emergency Prepare Fair in Minneapolis from 10:00am – 2:00pm. It’s located at the IDS Crystal Court — City Center — Nicollet Mall Between 6th & 10th Streets. There will be tons of emergency vehicles to explore along Nicollet Mall including:
- Urban Search & Rescue Vehicles
- Bomb Squad
- Mass Casualty Van
- Mobile Hazardous Material Laboratory
- Rescue Air Boat
- Police K9
- Weather Chasers
- SWAT & more!
Also, Headwaters Relief Organization, based in Golden Valley, has graciously shared the following article with me to post here to help families with natural disaster preparedness! Read on for some valuable tips and information:
National Preparedness Month is a Golden Opportunity for Family Safety
September is National Preparedness Month, and it’s also the perfect time of year to teach kids about disaster preparedness. We’re still in the tail end of tornado season and heading toward blizzard season, and our kids are in the eager-to-learn mindset that comes with back-to-school.
Headwaters Relief is a disaster relief collaboration of volunteers based in Golden Valley, MN. While Headwaters Relief works locally, nationally and globally, they are particularly dedicated to preparing Twin Cities area children and families for natural disasters.
Natural disasters strike suddenly and severely, and there’s no place on the planet that’s completely free from their threat. In our own area, we’re no strangers to tornadoes, floods and serious blizzards. Because being prepared saves lives, the U.S. government has declared September National Preparedness Month.
During National Preparedness Month, communities around the country hold special events to help families plan for the worst. In Minneapolis one such event is the 2014 Minneapolis Emergency Prepare Fair, which will be held on September 23rd at IDS Crystal Court and Nicollet Mall between 6th and 10th Streets.
One of the presenters you’ll see there is Headwaters Relief Organization. Headquartered in Golden Valley, Headwaters Relief is a collaboration of volunteers dedicated to helping victims of natural disaster. Headwaters Relief volunteers have seen the worst of nature’s fury, including the devastation wreaked upon the children of Haiti after their 2010 earthquake and children of the Philippines after 2012’s typhoon Haiyan. Since working with children is such an important part of Headwaters Relief’s mission, they’re sharing with area parents some vital tips for disaster preparedness.
- Create a family preparedness plan: Your family plan should include escape routes from both your home and your neighborhood (try to include 2 escape routes from each room in your house, if possible); a meeting place outside your neighborhood where your family can go after a disaster; and a non-local emergency contact that your family can call to coordinate with each other. It’s important that your entire family, babysitters and even immediate neighbors know all aspects of your family plan.
- Assemble an emergency kit: A basic emergency kit should at the very least contain drinking water and food for each person; blankets and a change of clothes for each person; flashlights; a battery-powered radio; batteries; area maps; cell phones and chargers; any necessary medications; and vital documents like passports, birth certificates, personal identification, insurance information, deeds and wills. Learn more about the specifics of what to include at Ready.gov. Keep your emergency kit where it can be accessed quickly and tell the whole family where it lives.
- Know your weather: Talk to your local office of emergency management (the Minneapolis office has many great resources on its website) about what types of natural disasters are most likely to hit our area and when. Usually tornado season is at its worst from mid-May through the end of August, though it can start as early as March and end as late as October. Floods can happen any time there’s unusually high or rapid rainfall. And blizzards are of course a threat only in winter.
- Drill your kids: Children can be motivated to memorize preparedness plans through fun drills. For example, you can hold a race in which kids have to exit the house through a pre-approved escape route and the first child out wins a prize. You can do similar exercises with locating the family meeting place; dialing the emergency contact number; fetching the emergency kit; and quizzing them about the family plan. Games and prizes make the process less frightening and more memorable.
- Talk to your children honestly about disasters. You don’t want to traumatize your children, but you do need to discuss the severity of disasters, what to expect during each type and when they may happen. You can explain disasters in terms they’ll understand. Floods, for example, are just too much rain. Tornadoes are funnels of bad wind. Earthquakes are the ground shaking. Blizzards are a very big snowstorm. Keep it simple but informative. And after you talk to your children about disasters and go over the family plan in detail, you should give them a chance to ask your questions and voice their concerns. Be patient, listen and answer truthfully, but tactfully.
Volunteers from Headwaters Relief will be happy to answer your questions about disaster preparedness at the Emergency Prepare Fair, but if you can’t make it to the fair, you can also interact with them on Facebook and Twitter.
With luck, you may never need to put your family plan into action, but you do need to have a plan in place. People, especially children, who prepare for natural disasters ahead of time are more likely to survive and less likely to be injured. So don’t take a chance with your family’s well being. Take the opportunity presented by National Preparedness Month to prepare your family and gain peace of mind.
- Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pets
- Ready.gov: Natural Disasters
- NRDC: Natural Disasters: Be Aware, Be Prepared
- Red Cross: Prepare for Emergencies
(Thank you to Headwaters Relief Organization for this guest article!)