As parents prepare to send their children back to school or college, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies throughout Illinois are encouraging them to include emergency preparedness in their back-to-school plans.
“Disasters can happen anytime of the day, even when children are in school or daycare,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “Take a few minutes to find out how your child’s school will handle emergencies and talk to your child about how your family will communicate after a disaster.”
Joseph offered several back-to-school planning tips for parents of school-aged children, including:
- Know your child’s school or day care emergency plan.
- Find out where children will be taken in the event of an evacuation during school hours.
- Ensure your current emergency contact information is on file at your child’s school.
- Pre-authorize a friend or relative to pick up your children in an emergency and make sure the school knows who that designated person is.
- Teach children about ‘Text First, Talk Later.’ Short, simple text messages, such as “R U OK?” and “I’m OK,” are more likely to get through than a phone call if phone service is disrupted following an emergency. As phone congestion eases, you can follow up with a phone call to relay more information.
Many college campuses offer email and text messages to alert students of potential dangers, such as severe weather and other threats. Encourage your college student to sign-up for such alerts. Some colleges also provide alert messages for parents so they also are aware of potential dangers on campus. In addition, make sure your student knows the emergency plans for their dorm or apartment building.