We spend the first 18 years taking care of our children.
Countless hours lost to latching cabinets and covering outlets. Turning the temperature down on water heaters and securing furniture to walls. We put enormous effort into keeping our loved ones as safe as possible.
Why would earthquake preparation be any different?
If you have young children at home, or you’re expecting them soon, preparing for a disaster is even more important.
Many of us at The Earthquake Bag are parents. We know how much you love your children and how much effort you put into keeping them safe.
Preparing for an earthquake doesn’t have to be difficult, even with young children at home. We broke it down into three preparation areas for you: the home, your child, and your earthquake bag.
Read on to learn the steps you can take to keep your dearest ones safe.
How to Prepare for an Earthquake With Young Children
Preparing the Home
If you have a young child, you may have already taken many of these steps to keep them safe. Preparation become especially important during a natural disaster.
- Keep beds away from windows, which may break and fall during a major earthquake
- No heavy objects above the crib. Whether it’s a shelf, picture frame, or mobile— it’s best to keep heavy objects far away from the crib
- Secure heavy furniture to the wall so they can’t cause injuries if they tip
- Latch your cabinets so heavy items don’t fall out of them during intense shaking
- Keep heavy items where they belong using earthquake putty on your shelves
Preparing Your Child
If your child is old enough to be out of their crib, then they are old enough to discuss earthquake safety. If need some help, check out our post on how to talk to your children about natural disasters.
Discuss earthquake safety at home.
- Before an earthquake your children should know to scan the space they are in to find the safest place that they can drop, cover, and hold. This could be under a desk, a table, or on the floor away from heavy furniture and windows
- During an earthquake, your children should know to immediately drop, cover, and hold. They should not try to move to a different area or try to find you
- After an earthquake, your family should all head to a designated meeting spot. Teach your children where the spot is and how they can access it. Keep a whistle in the room for older children to use if they are unable to leave the room due to injury or structural damage
Discuss earthquake safety outside the home.
- Revise and rehearse your family communication plan often
- Childcare centers and schools should have a plan in place for emergencies. Request a copy of the plan and discuss it with the caregivers if needed
- In public, teach your children to grab your hand and follow you if possible. If you’re at the park or a playground, instruct them to drop, cover, and hold immediately
- Practice! Have quick safety drills on a regular basis. This makes earthquake safety instinctual and it can help ease fear for younger children
Make them feel safe.
Many children develop short-term anxiety after learning about earthquakes. Reassure your kids that they have the best chance of staying safe if they follow your safety rules. Tell them that you love them and that, if you are separated after an earthquake, you will look for them.
Getting Your Earthquake Bag Child-Ready
Young children need a lot of stuff. It’s why diaper bags were invented! The same thing goes for earthquake bags. You may choose to add items to your existing bag or get baby a bag of their own. Either way, be sure to include these items that will keep your child health and safe.
Food and Water
Younger children, particularly infants, have different nutritional needs. Consider the following when packing food for your earthquake bag.
- Formula. If the nursing mother is separated from her baby due to injury or circumstance, you’ll still be able to feed the infant. You have two options: ready-to-feed formula or powdered formula. Ready-to-feed requires no water or heating and, despite its short shelf-life, is a better option when water may be scarce. Powdered formula has a longer shelf-life and is much more affordable
- Bottled water is necessary for the safe preparation of formula, but it’s also important for breastfeeding mothers
- Baby food. Babies and young children might not be ready for the non-perishable foods that are already in your earthquake bag. Include baby food or shelf-stable fruits and vegetables that they can eat
After packing the essentials in your earthquake bag, you might want to include a few of these extras to make your child more comfortable:
- Disposable diapers
- Medications or supplements
- Vaccination records
- Manual breast pump— while not a necessity, a nursing mother may wish to pack this to keep her milk supply up
- Thermos— this will help keep expressed milk warm for a short period of time
- Baby carrier— this can be especially useful if there is too much rubble to navigate a stroller over
Resources for Families
There are a ton of awesome, kid-friendly resources out there to educate your loved ones on earthquake safety. These websites feature lessons, games, videos, and activities. They can help lessen the fear of earthquakes while encouraging preparation.
This kid-friendly video talks about earthquake science, safety, and preparedness.
The Ready.gov website has a ton of fun games and resources for kids and parents!
The Red Cross has some excellent resources for educating children.
Kids who are into science will definitely want to check out the USGS website!
It can be frightening to imagine a devastating earthquake when you have small children. But, with no way way to predict them, an earthquake can strike at any time.
If you’re ready to take action and make your family safer, here’s what you can do:
- Read our guide on 5 steps you can take tonight to make your family more prepared.
- Learn about the surprising places you can find safe drinking water after an emergency
- Build or buy an earthquake bag for your family.