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Back to School 101: Be Prepared

A new school year is a fresh start for both kids and parents. And it's the perfect time to make sure the whole family is prepared for emergencies and other unexpected events.

Has your family talked about what you would do in a disaster or emergency situation? Planning will give everyone some peace of mind, and will help ease those "what if?" worries.

Get a Kit Put together a disaster supplies kit, and involve your kids in the process. Download a list of supplies you should have and assemble them together.

Make a Plan Sit down with your family and discuss what you would do in an emergency:

  • Decide how you would reach other family members and where to meet if they can't return home.
  • Designate an out-of-area relative or friend as an emergency contact and make sure all household members know how to contact this person.
  • Make an evacuation plan by choosing two meeting places: one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
  • Decide where you would go and what route you would take if you had to evacuate. Make sure to also plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of "pet friendly" motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

Be Informed What kind of emergencies or natural disasters are most common in your area? Take time to learn about these events with your children so that your whole family knows what to expect and how to prepare.

Print out emergency contact cards for each member of your family, and have them carry the card with them at all times in case of a disaster or other emergency.

Additional Tips for Kids in School Disasters and emergencies can happen at any time. It's important to be prepared in case one occurs while your child is in school.

  • When the new school year begins, talk to your child's teacher or school principal about the school's emergency plan.
  • Remind your child that the most important thing they can do if an emergency happens at school is to stay calm and listen to the direction of their teachers or principal.
  • Tape a copy of your family's contact numbers and meeting place(s) to the inside of your child's binder or homework notebook and in their book bag.

To get further prepared, take a Red Cross course—every year, millions of people learn how to help their families, coworkers and neighbors with first aid and CPR/AED training.