Schools practicing "Drop, Cover and Hold On" during the Great California ShakeOut on October 17 at 10:17 a.m. make earthquake preparedness discussions in families more timely than ever.
Find out what your children are scared about, and help them prepare to face their fears by taking action.
Loud noises caused by crashing dishes and glasses and other household objects can scares children more than the shaking building. That's why it's good to be prepared with noise reduction -- getting cabinet closures, putting glassware on lower shelves, removing objects from high spaces that can crash and break into pieces.
Being in the dark if an earthquake happens at night can be easier to deal with if the child already knows about the flashlight and shoes under their bed. You might even put them there tonight.
Being informed of the reunification plan you have in mind for your family, or that the school has in mind for your child, helps children panic less about when they're going to see their parents again. Let them know what you know about what you have planned to do in the event of an earthquake.
Give older children with cell phones the out-of-state friend or family member designated as the contact. Even if they can't call on their cells, they'll have the number on hand if they do get to a landline.
With a family disaster plan, you can designate roles ahead of time. A responsibility after an earthquake can lend a sense of control to the situation and lessen anxiety. Purpose provides direction and comfort. Even putting older children in charge of younger ones can have a calming effect.
Be sure to include activities and games, toys and stuffed animals, in your earthquake survival kits, for comfort, and familiarity, during what could be a long waiting period. "Earthquake Bear" could come in handy for explanations of concepts that could be frightening to children, such as evacuation or prolonged separation from a parent or sibling.
Be prepared to talk to your children about the ShakeOut drill on October 17. Ask them to describe it and find out what they learned.