It is that time of year when parents send their children back off to school.  Some for the first time, some to middle school and some to their first day of high school.  However, we also have those parents sending their children away to college, many times far from home.  Are these children, no matter age, prepared?

It is National Preparedness Month and today I was asked to do a story about school preparedness.  This is not a new concept, I did a similar story several years ago when I sent my son off to college.  However, in these past three years, it seems like the world has changed dramatically. When we send our children off to school, are they ready?  Are we ready?  What can and should we be doing this month to make sure that no matter what happens, our children are prepared to deal with it?

The first thing we need to do is make sure we have a plan with our children, a plan that does not involve technology.  Too often as a society we think, we will just call our children or loved ones when a disaster strikes.  However, as disaster after disaster have proven, our technology usually does not work when we need the most. Therefore, just like those family fire drills we all used to practice, our plan must include safe havens to reconnect after a disaster.  If it’s our K-12 children, the plan will revolve around your schools reunification plan.  If you have not checked already, now would be a good time to check with your school district and inquire about their plan.

If your child is at college, not only do you want to know the school’s plan, but you also want to create a plan with your child that will not include electronic communications, unless of course texting is working.  Have several locations away from your son or daughters school where your child knows you will come to meet them.  These two or more locations should be in opposite directions, because you never know where the disaster might strike.

In the next two weeks the South Central Task Force will be holding a full scale exercise with a local high school. If this is like many other exercises we have conducted, we will have parents refuse to allow their children to participate and “experience” this potentially lifesaving event. We will hear it’s “too traumatic for my child.”  I ask those parents, would you rather you child learn under created circumstances or learn in a real event. None of us can predict where a natural or man-made disaster may occur, we all need to start taking steps to teach our children what to do when that day occurs.

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