Going away to college represents a big life change for students and parents alike. If you have a student getting ready to start classes, you both are probably overwhelmed with all the preparations. Don’t forget, getting ready for college isn’t just about academics. It is important that your college student is ready for emergencies as well.
According to FEMA, it is important to equip students with a disaster kit that includes a flashlight, a radio, a solar powered or hand-cranked cell phone charger, energy bars, water and first aid supplies. It is also a good idea to provide a car kit.
Find out the emergency procedures for the college your student is attending and make sure he or she is on the emergency notification system list. Go over the emergency procedures with your student to be sure they are clear. After all, he will have to handle situations alone without parental guidance.
You should also establish a communication system for your family so you are notified if there is an emergency at the college. You will want to know your child is safe. Also, make an emergency contact list with names, phone numbers and locations of family members, doctors, medical insurance and any other important information. Put a copy in the emergency kit and also keep a copy someplace else (such as a vehicle) so the information is easily accessible.
It may be hard seeing your child go away to college, but making sure he is completely prepared for every situation will give you both peace of mind.
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A school lockdown happens when officials at a school perceive a threat to students and staff. Students and teachers are instructed to stay in their classrooms with doors and windows closed and locked to protect them from anyone trying to enter. Students are instructed to stay quiet and move to the safest part of the room, and parents are instructed to stay away from the school until everything is safe.
A lockdown is scary for children and adults alike. However, teachers must keep calm and keep their students calm. This may be hard when children are told to hide under their desk in the dark and not make a sound. That’s why lockdown drills are useful. They help children understand what will happen in the case of a lockdown and allow them to practice. Just like tornado and fire drills, these drills should be conducted several times a year. Ask about your school’s lockdown drill policy.
While you discuss what your school will do during a lockdown, find out what type of classroom supplies are available for times of lockdown or other emergencies. Every classroom should have a safety lockdown container survival kit with enough supplies for each students. If your school doesn’t have emergency kits, consider donating one to your child’s classroom, or talk to school administrators about setting up a Save-a-Life school fundraiser to get emergency kits for the school.
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You may remember walking to school when you were a child (up hill, both ways!) but today, not everyone feels safe letting their youngster make the trek on their own. Here are a few safety tips that will help ensure that your child gets to school safely.
Walking isn’t necessarily out of the question if the walk is short and your child is old enough. Typically, once a child is 9 or 10, he is old enough to be able to walk to school responsibly. To make that walk safer, walk with your child several times to be sure he knows the route. Point out traffic signs and lights, as well as potential hazards he should be aware of.
Teach your child to always use cross walks and only cross the street when the light is green (or if there is no traffic in the absence of a light). Look for areas with crossing guards and teach your child to always obey them.
Find out what other children live close to you that may also walk to school and create a “pool” of kids who will travel together. The old saying about safety in numbers is true, and someone is less likely to hurt a child in a group of other children. To make it even safer, parents may be able to take turns walking with the group.
If it will be dark while your child walks, make sure he has reflective clothing so it is easy to see him from a vehicle and give him a flashlight. Always have a plan for when your child will be home. If he will be late, make sure he knows to notify you beforehand. That way, if he is late, you know to look for him. An older child or teenager, you may feel safe giving them pepper spray for emergency protection. Make sure they know this is not a toy and teach them how to use it responsibly. Check local laws before carrying pepper spray. Another safety tool for any age is a safety whistle.
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Summer is almost over, and in some places kids have already gone back to school. Others are trying to squeeze in that last bit of fun before summer ends by going camping, boating, or hiking. This isn’t the time to forget about safety and preparedness. Have the right supplies so your summer ends on a positive note.
Always have a first aid kit sufficient for the number of people who are with you, as well as emergency supplies including water, high energy food, insect repellent, map, compass, knife, firestarter, a personal shelter and extra clothing.
Whatever activity you choose to pursue, make sure you have a plan. Spontaneity is fun, but you should still have a basic outline of where you will be and when you expect to be back. Give a copy of this plan to someone who isn’t going with you. If you are not back when expected, they should call for help.
Also, be aware of potential hazards in the area you plan to be. Monitor the weather with your weather radio, just in case an unexpected storm will require you to change your plans.
Make sure your summer ends as one full of great memories, not sad ones.
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A school emergency doesn’t have to be a terrorist attack. It can be the flu spreading like wildfire through the school, it can be a tornado drill or it can be a bad ice storm that knocks out power. But no matter what kind of emergency strikes your child’s school, they should have an emergency plan.
Does your child’s school have an emergency plan in place? Have you asked? If not, find out if the school has a crisis team. You may be able to volunteer to help establish one if there isn’t one already in place.
A school crisis team should be responsible for teaching staff how to handle various disaster situations including:
- Natural disasters
- Severe weather
- Chemical or hazardous material spills
- Bus crashes
- School shootings
- Bomb threats
- Medical emergencies
- Student or staff deaths (suicide, homicide,
- unintentional, or natural)
- Acts of terror or war
- Outbreaks of disease or infections
According to the Department of Education, each event can be handled by breaking it down into the following sequence of crisis management.
1. Mitigation/Prevention addresses what schools and districts can do to reduce or eliminate risk to life and property.
2. Preparedness focuses on the process of planning for the worst-case scenario.
3. Response is devoted to the steps to take during a crisis.
4. Recovery deals with how to restore the learning and teaching environment after a crisis.
While you may not be involved in the actual crisis management planning, it is good to ask about these things for your own peace of mind. Find out how the school will handle various situations and how parents will be notified of disasters. Also make sure each classroom has a disaster kit and each teacher knows how to use it.
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