Hurricanes devastate the East coast. Tornados rip across the mid-West, and California has earthquakes. What can parents do to prepare their kids for a tumbler?
Being prepared for an earthquake isn’t paranoid, it’s smart. Today, October 17 residents of Los Angeles and throughout the state will participate in the annual “Great California Shakeout.” This is an annual statewide earthquake drill in which kids along with millions of adults dive under their desks at school or work to practice the drop, cover, and hold technique for surviving an earthquake.
Here are a few suggestions for you to follow at home to prepare for the BIG ONE. First, stock up on bottled water and canned foods. Purchase a non-electric can opener, flashlights, batteries, candles, and non-perishable foods. You want to keep at least a two- week supply on hand.
Next, talk to your kids. Plan together a family escape route in case of an emergency. Find a place in your home for everyone to meet when the tumbler strikes.
You and the children should check the home for objects that could fall on someone’s head during a quake. Bookshelves can be fastened to walls, picture frames can be latched, and large plants can be moved. Make sure you push beds and cribs away from windows that could implode.
Know where the gas shut-off valve is in your home, and locate the master electrical switch. Place a wrench near the gas meter, a flashlight in each child’s room, and candles and matches ready.
Once a month conduct a family drill. During the drill speak to your family in a calm commanding voice. Have everyone duck under a table, desk, bed, or doorframe. Children and adults should stay under cover until the shaking stops.
Finally, prepare an emergency kit. Store medical supplies, flashlight batteries, a portable radio, plastic bags, and a fire extinguisher.
When a quake does occur, after the shaking stops, check to make sure everyone is together at the prearranged spot. If you smell gas, shut it off. If electrical wires are crackling, shut the gas first, and then turn off the master electrical switch. If you see any small fires, put the fire extinguisher to work. Check your building for structural damage. If you think your home is unsafe, get out.
Once the emergency is over, talk to your kids and listen to their fears. If a child continues to be fearful long after the quake, seek professional help.
Michael Thal is the author of Goodbye Tchaikovsky, a story about a California teen violinist becoming deaf.