As many as 40 percent of American families do not have a family emergency plan in place, according to Save the Children®, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving children a healthy start and protection from harm. But emergencies can happen to anyone at any time, making emergency preparedness and safety education important issues for families to address, especially families with small children.

“There are many myths and assumptions that keep families from adequately preparing for emergencies, and the consequences can be devastating,” said Dr. Gloria Julius, vice president of education and professional development for Primrose Schools®, an early education and care provider with more than 300 schools across the country. Make safety a priority for your family by learning the common misconceptions about emergency preparation and taking steps to ensure your family is ready to respond if a disaster strikes.

Myth 1: It Won’t Happen Here. According to data from Save the Children, 90 percent of children in the United States live in areas at risk for natural disaster, and 54 percent of U.S. families have been affected by some type of natural or other disaster. For too many parents, the day they start thinking about emergency preparedness is the day they are faced with an actual disaster. Start preparing now by completing simple steps like filling out emergency contact forms that can be tucked in your child’s backpack at school, helping your children memorize important phone numbers and stocking your home with emergency supplies.

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Myth 2: It’s Scary. Discussing emergency preparedness can be daunting, but talking about it is an important part of helping to prepare and protect your children from disasters. Incorporate fun elements into your conversation, such as having your child color the back of an emergency contact form or count items for an emergency kit. As you talk about emergencies, you can also discuss what makes your child feel safe and explain how community helpers, like firefighters and policemen, help in times of crisis. “Many parents worry about the right way to approach those conversations without sparking undue fear in children,” said Sarah Thompson, associate director of community preparedness with Save the Children. “By providing children age-appropriate education, you’re equipping them with lifelong safety skills and a sense of mastery that will help them effectively respond to and cope with emergencies.”

Myth 3: My Kids Are Safe with Me. On a daily basis, 69 million children in America are separated from their parents during the work day while in school or child care for an average of nine hours. You can help ease fear on both sides by teaching your children what to expect if a disaster strikes when you aren’t together. Determine a meeting place should you be separated, and check with your child’s school or child care provider to ensure they have a plan for emergencies.

Myth 4: We’re Already Prepared. You may feel like you’ve taken steps to protect your family, but being prepared for emergencies is an ongoing process. It involves regular practice and maintenance, like practicing emergency drills with your children and keeping contact information updated. Reviewing emergency preparedness materials can help you identify gaps or things you may have inadvertently overlooked.

To learn about Primrose School at Mountainside, visit primrosemountainside.com or call 908-228-5589. For more parenting tips, visit www.PrimroseSchools.com/blog.