Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? That means it’s a great time to brush up on our emergency preparedness plans and readiness. The past year has brought several unexpected events to Oregon and across the globe. While we can’t predict when a situation might arise, we can take steps today to prepare for tomorrow. As parents, involving our children in the conversations and the planning is an important piece of properly preparing for an emergency. 

Here are some things you can do to get your children involved:

Build an emergency kit together. If you tapped into your emergency stores early in the pandemic, now is an excellent time to refresh or build an emergency kit. Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management recommends planning to be self-sufficient for two weeks. The basics include food, bottled water, first aid supplies, medicines, a backup cell phone battery, and a battery-operated radio. A printable list of items to have is available on Ready.gov. Your child can also assemble their “go bag” using an old-school backpack. A few good things to include are an extra set of clothes, a flashlight, non-perishable food items, a bottle of water, a disposable rain poncho, and a small, personal item like a stuffy.

Create a family emergency plan. With kids back to school and activities back on the calendar, you and your family are likely in multiple places at any given moment. Write out a plan and then role-play what you and your family will do if a disaster strikes. Make copies for every family member and review them together to know where to go and what to do if you are separated. Don’t forget to establish an out-of-state emergency contact you and your family can call and communicate through if needed.

Plan for your pets. Research pet shelters or boarding facilities in the area if you have to evacuate your home. It’s also a good idea to list pet-friendly hotels along the main freeways. Don’t forget to include pet supplies in your emergency kit. Consider microchip identification if your pet doesn’t already have one.

Home inventory: Create a home inventory video with your cell phone. This is important if you have to file an insurance claim. Walk around the house with your children and record and describe what you are looking at. The kids will have fun filming and narrating. Just remember to capture as much as you can. It’s easier if you take it one room at a time and create separate videos for each room. Don’t forget the garage and items outside the house.

Connect with your community. Many neighborhoods have emergency response teams and plans in place to assist neighbors in the event of a disaster. Check with your neighborhood association to see what you and your kids can do to help the neighborhood prepare.

Emergency planning doesn’t have to feel like a downer. It’s a valuable exercise for kids, and making it interactive and fun can help ensure you and your family are organized in the event of an emergency.