So, while you are crossing things off the school supply list, packing up backpacks, and taking those first-day-at-school pictures, consider these planning tips:
For school-aged children:
- Familiarize yourself with the school's emergency response plan. It’s important to know where your children will be in the event of an evacuation during school hours.
- Ensure your current emergency contact information is on file at your child's school.
- Sign up to receive email and text alerts via the schools emergency notification system. If they don't have a system in place, ask about their emergency communication plan.
- Create a plan with a friend or relative to pick up your children in the case of an emergency and make sure the school and children know who the individual is so there is no confusion.
- Create an emergency kit for their backpack - a non-perishable snack, a whistle, pocket-sized first aid kit, medical and allergy card, etc.
- Instruct your children with cell phones to 'text first, talk later’ during an emergency situation. Short, simple text messages, such as “R U OK?” and “I'm OK,” are more likely to get through than a phone call if phone services is disrupted during an emergency.
- Ensure your child knows their address and phone number.
- Prepare a Backpack Emergency Card for your student and place it in a secure spot in the backpack. Here’s a version provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Establish a communication check-in routine, especially for those students who go home to an empty house.
- Review emergency procedures with your child for when they are at home, at the bus stop, or on their way home.
- Ensure students are familiar with different routes and ways to travel home whether they are a car-rider, bus rider, or walker.
- Visit with neighbors to identify a place your child can go in the event of an emergency.
- Review and update your family emergency communication plan. Here’s a version provided by the CDC.
For students heading off to college:
- Many college campuses offer email and text messages to alert students of potential dangers. Ensure your student signs up for such alerts, and check to see if parents can sign up to receive them as well.
- Make certain your college student knows the emergency plan for their dorm, apartment building, or frequented campus buildings.
- Encourage them to become familiar with different routes and ways to travel to and from school and work.
- Identify emergency contacts for your student - roommates, housemates, a coach, or anyone they will have regular contact with.
- Update your family emergency communication plan and ensure your college student has a copy of it, too!