The key to emergency preparedness is practice. In the moment, you’ll likely experience a mixture of fear, panic and adrenaline. It’s easy to act on reflex, so drilling your home safety plan over and over will help you keep a cool head.
Practicing your plan is also very important for keeping children safe. If they sleep on an upper level of your home, be sure to practice climbing down the fire escape ladder. Talking about the fire escape ladder is not enough. Some children have an unknown fear of heights and may freeze in the moment, if it is their first time on the ladder. Practice in advance.
Make sure to practice your safety plan during different conditions, and at least once per year at night. The dark amplifies fear, and in an emergency your children will likely be scared. Practicing in advance gets them better prepared to stay safe.
Finally, practice basic safety measures over and over, like touching a door before opening (to identify the heat of fire) or “stop, drop and roll.” If you live in an earthquake-prone area, teach your children (and train yourself) not to run outside – it’s quaking out there, too! – but to hunker down in a safe spot. If you suffer from hurricanes or tornadoes, drill your family on getting to a safe spot.