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Emergency Preparedness with Children


  • Keep it positive: empower and reassure
  • Interest: build interest by engaging via age appropriate stories and activities 
  • Do it right: get a kit, make a plan, be informed 
  • Simulate : practise and review at least once a year, make it easy and fun
How to talk to Children about Emergency Preparedness

Be reassuring and positive. Do not terrify children and young people. Tell them that disasters and emergencies are something that can happen and that it could hurt people and cause damage. Explain that nature sometimes provides ‘too much of a good thing’ (rain, wind, snow, fire) and talk about typical effects that children can relate to, for example the loss of electricity or water and what that means. Give some basic and not overly dramatic examples of what could happen in your area and mention early warning signs and how you are prepared for such emergencies and what the young person should do.
Discussing such matters in a caring and sensitive way ahead of time reduces fear and anxiety and lets everyone know how to respond. Teach children how and when to call for help and involve them in as many practical and pro-active ways as possible. Explain that they are not alone, that when people know what to do and practise, everyone is better able to handle emergencies – and that’s why you have a personal emergency plan. Talk about how emergency services, police and fire fighters, doctors, teachers, neighbours and volunteers help following a disaster. Importantly get them to memorize your outside contact and what to do if they are separated. Alternatively, have them carry a card with that information.


Guidance for Parents how to help Children in the aftermath of an Emergency or Disaster

Good resources include:

"Supporting Children after a traumatic event" (NHS, archived 2019); British Red Cross Emergency tips ; Article in The Conversation: Children aren't liabilities in disasters - they can help, if we let them.

USA: FEMA Helping children cope with disaster; CDC Caring for children in a disaster;  ReadyGov Helping Children Cope; UN / UNESCO  Parent's guide for Disaster Risk Reduction;  

NCCEV Parent’s guide for helping children in the wake of disaster 
For additional resources see our directory Ready for Emergencies  

In addition, find out more about Cuidar, a child-centred disaster management framework for Europe for those working in the field to engage with young people in emergency planning and disaster risk reduction.


Emergency Preparedness Stories for Children

Essex County Council Emergency Planning Service has a series of online books, Hampshire and Isle of Wight have Susie childminder books and our virtual library holds several bookshelves to explore and choose resources from.  

UK story books: Katie and the Floods; Joe and Storm Desmond; Moggy is coming;  
Also look on youtube for excellent content, for example the Northants Emergencies series of ‘Numpties’ video clips, i.e.:

Emergency Preparedness Games and Activities

Themed games and activities include:

Crucial Crew from Suffolk
British Red Cross Disaster Island  interactive video
GrabBag interactive game; CSW Resilience  
What-if from Essex Civil Protection and Emergency Management
30days30waysUK 'September is Preparedness Month' is a national campaign with content that is adaptable for children
Emergency Preparedness ABC from our blog

UN Stop Disasters
FEMA Disaster Hero 
DHS Disaster Master & Build a Kit 
CDC Ready Wrigley  
Canada Safety Council be prepared activities (download)
McLean county emergency preparedness treasure hunt game 

More resources also via our directory Ready for Emergencies, the Preparedness Hub and Home Emergency Kits. This page is also accessed by bit.ly/preparedKids