As summer winds down and back-to-school preparations gear up, state emergency management officials are reminding families that now is a good time to update their emergency plans.
North Carolina Emergency Management asks parents, teachers and students who are returning to school this month to make a plan, get prepared and stay informed so they are ready for any type of emergency.
“Emergencies can occur any time, any day, any place – even at school,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “Be sure your family has discussed what you need to do during all types of emergencies and how to stay in touch. And if you haven’t already, create or update your emergency supplies kit.”
While hurricanes are the most prominent weather threat in North Carolina during late August and September, floods, tornadoes and even hazardous materials spills are also possibilities, Sprayberry said. The best way to be ready, he advised, is to be prepared.
“Parents, talk with your children about what they should do if severe weather threatens while they are in school. Know your child’s school’s emergency plan. And be sure your child knows how to get in touch with you,” Sprayberry said.
Other tips for back-to-school emergency planning for parents of school-aged children are:
- Create an emergency plan that contains phone numbers, ways to communicate with one another and where to meet if separated during an emergency;
- Make a card for your child(ren) to put in their backpack with all of the family’s emergency contact information;
- Know the emergency plan(s) for your child’s school or child care center;
- Learn where children will be taken in the event of an evacuation during school hours;
- Find out school release policies for severe weather and/or other emergencies, and ask how you will be contacted should an emergency occur at the school;
- Pre-authorize a friend or relative to pick up your child(ren) in case of an emergency;
- Make sure the school and your child(ren) know who the emergency contact is; and
- Update your emergency contact information at the beginning of each school year.
Many college campuses offer desktop, phone, email and text messages to alert students of potential dangers, such as severe weather and other threats. College students can sign-up for such alerts at little to no charge.
“Emergency planning and readiness begins at home,” Sprayberry said. “Knowing what to do and where to go can reassure parents about the children’s safety, and ultimately, save lives.”
For more information about how to get ready for a hurricane and what to do during or after a storm, go to ReadyNC.org. You can also download the free ReadyNC app – available for both iPhone and android devices – which has real time weather, traffic and shelter information.
– NC Emergency Management