How to Be Ready for a Disaster (for Kids)

Are you ready to put your planning skills to good use? Are you ready to help your family get prepared for the unexpected? Your family can use this "how to" to create a plan that will help you be ready for many different kinds of unexpected situations!

You're already a great planner! Every day you get your homework done, get to music or sports practice on time, and plan where and when you'll meet up with friends. But how do you get prepared for emergencies?

It's simple! It just takes planning and practice, follow these easy steps, talk to your family, and make a plan and put it in a safe place. When you're all through, you and your family will be ready for an emergency.


  1. Image titled Be Ready for a Disaster (for Kids) Step 1
    Create an emergency supply kit. Just think about all the things your family uses every day. Hmm. Clothes, money, TV or radio, books . . . and don't forget about food!

    Play the "Pack it up Game" to help you remember what your family should pack in your emergency supply kit! Flip 2 of them over. Try to match the pairs.
  2. Image titled Be Ready for a Disaster (for Kids) Step 2
    Make a list of items for your kit. Water, food, and clean air are important things to have if an emergency happens. Each family or individual’s kit should be customized to meet specific needs, such as medications and infant formula. It should also be customized to include important family documents.
    • Recommended Supplies to Include in a Basic Kit:
      • Water one gallon per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
      • Non-perishable Food at least a three-day supply
      • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra [[Recharge Batteries|batteries] for both
      • Flashlight and extra batteries
      • First Aid kit
      • Whistle to signal for help
      • Filter mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
      • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
      • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
      • Manual can opener if kit contains canned food
      • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
      • Important Family Documents
      • Items for unique family needs, such as daily prescription medications, infant formula or diapers
      • Cell phone and chargers
    • If you live in a cold weather climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that the power will be out and you will not have heat. Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing children and other family changes. One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including:
      • Important family documents.
      • A jacket or coat
      • Long pants
      • A long sleeve shirt
      • Sturdy shoes
      • A hat and gloves
      • A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
    • Consider adding these other items for your family supply kit. Some of these items, especially those marked with a * can be dangerous, so please have an adult collect these supplies.
      • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or a print out of the information on
      • Rain gear
      • Mess Kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
      • Cash or traveler’s checks, change
      • Paper towels
      • Fire Extinguisher
      • Tent
      • Compass
      • Matches in a waterproof container*
      • Signal flare*
      • Paper, pencil
      • Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies
      • Disinfectant*
      • Household chlorine bleach* - You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
      • Medicine dropper
      • Important Family Documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  3. Image titled Be Ready for a Disaster (for Kids) Step 3
    Play a family scavenger hunt game. You and your family can collect items for your emergency supply kit during a family scavenger hunt! Print two copies of the Family Supply List. Then separate your family into two teams with adults and kids on each team (if possible) and assign each group a different list of items. Set a timer and see who comes back first.
  4. Image titled Be Ready for a Disaster (for Kids) Step 4
    Do a final check of your kit. You and your family have packed an emergency supply kit that will prepare you for any emergency. Now it's time to go over your list and make sure nothing was left out or forgotten.
  5. Image titled Be Ready for a Disaster (for Kids) Step 5
    Make a Plan. Well, now that your family has created an emergency supply kit, it's time to make a plan. It's important to plan ahead so that during an emergency you know what to do and how to get in touch with other family members! Here's how to create a clear family emergency plan.
  6. Image titled Be Ready for a Disaster (for Kids) Step 6
    Gather your family members (including your pets!) together for a quick family meeting, maybe over a pizza or before watching your favorite movie.
  7. Image titled Be Ready for a Disaster (for Kids) Step 7
    Talk about the following questions and make a list of your family's solutions. Before you know it you will have a plan in place that everyone in your family can follow. And if an unexpected event does happen you can stay calm; listen to the direction of adults around you, like your teachers or parents and follow your plan.
    • If there were an emergency and we were not together in the same place ...
    • How would we get in touch with each other?
      • Decide that each member will call or e-mail the same person. For example, each person will contact Uncle Bob first. If he's not home, each person will contact Aunt Suzie instead.
      • If cell phones are not working, you should try using a land-line phone at a neighbor's or friend's house, or a public telephone. Everyone should have coins or a prepaid phone card to make the call.
      • It might be easier to reach a person who's out of town. You can contact him or her to let them know you're okay.
    • Where would we meet?
      • Choose an easy-to-find location near your home, then practice getting there from different locations around your neighborhood.
      • Also, choose an easy-to-find location outside of your neighborhood in case you can't get home. With your parents, practice getting to that location from school, sports practice, or other places where you have after-school activities.
    • How would we remain in contact?
      • You should keep a copy of your family's contact numbers and meeting place(s) taped to the inside of your binder or homework notebook, in your book bag, or your wallet. Your plan should include all the phone numbers you might need.
      • Remember, you might have trouble getting through on the phone during an emergency. Just keep trying.
    • What would I do if I were at school?
      • Make sure your parents talk to your teacher or school principal about the school's emergency plan.
      • Depending on the unexpected event, your school may have a plan in place that will have you stay in your classroom or go somewhere else.
      • The most important things you can do if an emergency happens while you are at school are to stay calm and listen to the direction of your teachers or principal.
    • What would we do about our pets?
      • Your pet disaster kit should include:
        • Pet food and treats
        • Drinkable water in plastic bottles
        • Can opener for canned food
        • Pet medications and medical records in a waterproof container
        • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers so you can move your pets safely and they can’t escape (remember they may be scared and may act different than usual)
        • Current photos of your pet in case they get lost
        • The name of your veterinarian
        • Pet beds and toys, if there is room.
        • All your pets should have an identification tag and collar, too.
      • Make a plan for what you'll do with your pets if you can't take them with you. Remember, you may not be able to take them to a shelter.
  8. Image titled Be Ready for a Disaster (for Kids) Step 8
    Know the facts. OK, now you have a supply kit and a plan, but what do you actually know about different kinds of weather events and other unexpected situations? The words and terms you hear during emergencies can be confusing. Here's an overview of the most common terms, as well as Web sites you can visit for more information!
    • Tornado A violent storm that appears as a funnel-shaped cone with winds that reach up to 300 mph (480 km/h). Tornado season commonly occurs during the months of March through August, but they can occur at any time. They can happen in any state but are most commonly found in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas - an area of which is commonly called "Tornado Alley".
      If there are weather or news reports that say there is a tornado in your area, the most important thing to do is to take shelter immediately in a place without windows, such as a bathroom or a basement. Learn more here →
    • Earthquake The movement of the earth along cracks (called fault lines) in the earth's surface. Earthquakes are measured by something called a Richter scale. While earthquakes are common on the West Coast, they can occur in 45 states and territories across the United States.
      In an earthquake, remember to DROP, COVER and HOLD ON. DROP to the floor and get under something for COVER and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. Learn more here →
    • Fire Emergencies Fires are unexpected events that can happen anywhere at school, at home, in a store or shopping mall, or even in the outdoors in a forest or field. It is important to always know where the emergency exits are and to remember to be calm during a fire emergency.
      The most important thing you can do during a fire is listen to the direction of adults around you, like your teacher or parent. Remember to use the stairs (NEVER use an elevator) to leave the building or fire area right away, then [[Call Emergency Services|call t Learn more here →]
    • Flooding This natural condition happens as a result of river overflow, heavy rains, a dam breaking, or snow melting too fast. This is the most common natural weather event and can happen in every U.S. state. Stay as far away from flood water as you can. Moving flood water can be dangerous because it can knock you off your feet. And any type of flood water can be contaminated, meaning it can contain dangerous substances. Learn more here →
    • Tsunami A giant wave produced by underwater movement due to a variety of natural events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and meteorites. Tsunamis generally appear in the Pacific Ocean. If you feel an earthquake in the Pacific Coast area, turn on your battery-powered radio to learn if there is a tsunami warning. If you hear a tsunami warning, and they say to evacuate, do this immediately. Learn more here →
    • Hurricane A tropical storm with an "eye." Winds must be 74 mph (119 km/h) or stronger for weather to be classified as a hurricane.
      When hurricanes come onto land, their heavy rain, strong winds and heavy waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. It is important to take shelter in a hurricane and listen to the television or radio for instructions. Learn more here →
    • Terrorism Terrorism is the use of threat or violence to scare governments into changing their policies. A terrorist can be an individual or a member of an organization. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, are examples of acts of terrorism.
      Talk to your parents or teacher about this kind of emergency.

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Categories: Disaster Preparedness