Have you prepared your child on what to do if there is an emergency?
There are many things that happen that we have not planned for. Things like floods, terrorism attacks or fires are unusual and something we usually think is unlikely to happen. But what if your child is caught up in such a situation? In Swahili we say that ‘ajali haina kinga’ there are things that we can do to try and minimize the adverse effects of the accident. Most schools have fire extinguishers in the hallways but have you ever stopped to ask yourself just how many children know how to use them? It is important to train ourselves and the people around us including children on how to deal with emergencies.
Being familiar with drills in case of emergency could help not only you but also the people around you. As parents, in the face of an emergency, as much as you may want to save your children there may be circumstantial difficulties and you might not be with them, thus it is important to train children as early as possible to deal with emergency situations because it could make a difference between life or death.
Here are a few tips on how to go about this.
In case of a fire,
- Do not panic; evaluate your situation in order to rationally make a plan on how to deal with it.
- If it is at night wake people up, at whatever time of day make sure you alert all the people in the house about the fire. You could do this personally or just by calling out their room from a different part of the house.
- If you are in a situation to do something about the fire like put it off with water, do it. But if the fire is too widespread you need to leave the house.
- Assess if you are in a position to assist someone else if so, pour water on a blanket and crawl to the place where the other person is. Smoke rises, there will be cleaner air at the bottom. When there is a fire the cleaner air is near the ground so teach them to crawl their way out of the room if they cannot see through the smoke.
- Always breathe through a cloth; it cleans the air of the burning chemicals and other things in the smoke.
- Once you are out of the house, make sure you are at a distance to avoid inhaling the smoke, call for.
- Look for a training video that you can watch with your kids on what to do. Here is one you can check out.
In case of flooding, tell the kids to find a high place and stand on it, and hold on to something permanent that will be hard for the water to remove. You need to practise this so that they understand how to do it. Water is a complicated emergency mainly because if you try to swim to safety, the current may carry you with it. It is thus advisable to stay put. Call for help after you have reached a higher altitude. Some lessons on keeping their heads above water would also come in handy.
It is easy for a child to get lost, it is important to
- Teach your child to know their full names and not just pet names. The child should also know their parents’ full names, the names help with identification in case of separation. Here is a great video from Sesame Street that can help you show your children how to do that https://www.sesamestreet.org/toolkits/ready.
- In the era of technology, a child should know at least one parent’s number to make reconciliation easier. For the children that are too small to cram numbers, you could make a pendant for them with their names and parents numbers inscribed on it, or a bangle. The child should know that they can reach mum and dad when lost through that ornament.
Speaking of safety, here are safety tips for when your children have to travel alone