MADISON, Wis. — When a disaster strikes, every member of the family should know how to remain safe — including children. September is Preparedness Month, and ReadyWisconsin encourages everyone to make sure the children in their life know what to do during an emergency.
“It’s never too early to talk about what you should be doing to keep yourself and those around you safe during a disaster,” said Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general and homeland security advisor. “Preparedness is a life-long effort, and we want to make sure families, teachers, and other community organizations are well equipped to help teach younger generations how to respond when faced with a dangerous situation.”
Parents should talk to their children about what to do if there is an emergency at home, school, or when they are away. Make sure they know who to contact and identify a safe meeting place. Write a plan and review it regularly.
Knowing who to contact can also be extremely important, so take the time to develop a family communications plan. Parents should make sure their child’s school or daycare has current emergency contact information on file. Be sure to designate a backup emergency contact who is authorized to pick your child up if needed. Make sure your child knows the plan and has a copy of it in their backpack.
“Parents play a vital role in making sure children are ready to face an emergency,” said Dr. Darrell Williams, Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator. “We encourage all families to take time during Preparedness Month to go over their emergency plans and talk about the best ways to stay safe.”
Educators can help prepare fifth-grade students through the Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) program, a curriculum developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which is made available by the state at no cost to educators. The program helps teach important preparedness lessons to children, while encouraging them to take that information home and to build their own emergency kit.
“Since it began in 2011, STEP has helped nearly 75,000 children in Wisconsin learn about the importance of being prepared for the unexpected,” said Dr. Williams. “We are proud and excited to once again make this free program available to fifth-grade classrooms across the state.”
Teachers and school administrators interested in offering the STEP program in their schools this year can find more information online at https://readywisconsin.wi.gov/step/.
For more safety tips, visit ReadyWisconsin at https://readywisconsin.wi.gov. You can also follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/readywisconsin) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/readywisconsin).