Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
Author: Shulamit M. Schweitzer, MHS, Senior Management Analyst, GAP Solutions Inc. contractor supporting the Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health, and Community Resilience (ABC), Office of Policy and Planning (OPP), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Published Date: 9/2/2016 4:21:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness;
The beginning of the school year is upon us and kids are excited to board school buses and get back to class. But, do you know which steps the teachers or child care providers would take to protect your child if disaster struck before he or she got back home from school or child care?
As a parent, I know that it doesn’t need to be an incident that affects hundreds of children that gets you the most concerned – it’s the incidents that affect your own child. In May 2016, there was a shooting spree that put much of Montgomery County, Maryland, on lockdown, including my child’s day care center. I know firsthand as a parent how scary it can be not to know whether your child is safe, but I also know as an emergency planner how important it is to ensure there’s a plan to protect my child’s safety, and allow it to work to best ensure everyone’s safety.
So, as the school year begins its important to have the information you need to be reassured that your children will be safe. Do you know what the disaster plan is for the school or child care facility your child attends? If not, then ask them that question. And, if they have one, get a copy of it. Here are eight other questions you will want to ask them to make sure they’re prepared and you know what to do:
When my son was at child care during those 2016 shooting incidents, I experienced the same anxiety any other parent feels when an emergency occurs and they’re separated from their children. You feel helpless because you have to wait and can’t get your child right away and you want to do everything you can to ensure they are safe, but you need to be patient. I had reassurance that day because I knew my son’s child care center had a plan, the center had activated the plan and they had communicated that all the children, including my son, were all safe.
As it turns out, the best way to ensure children are safe during a disaster while at school or day care is to make sure there’s a well-thought out plan in place before disaster strikes. Now is the time to do that. If your child’s school or day care center does not already have a plan, excellent resources are provided by HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Department of Education.
After you ask these critical questions about how your child would be protected if a disaster occurred while they were away at school or child care, pose similar questions at home, and develop a disaster plan for your family.
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