When we teach children how to deal with an emergency, we are teaching them what to do in case we are missing from the area - or we are the one in trouble - and they have to act as independently as possible. But teaching teens how to deal with the emergency is different. We need to teach them to do the preparations - our part, what we know - so they can be proactive and independent, take care of themselves and their own home in the future.
First and foremost, your teen needs to know the difference between a problem and an emergency. A problem is something your teen can handle with little or no assistance, although it may be difficult. An emergency is when your teen will need assistance from emergency services. While there are many different types of emergencies, all have these two things in common:
- Your teen needs to know how to accomplish the tasks at hand and
- your teen needs to act on what they know.
Teaching Teens How to Deal with Specific Emergencies
An emergency can be any number of things. Here is a list of specific emergencies and tips on what you should teach your teen:
When bad weather strikes, your teen should know where to monitor the storms or other weather phenomena and how to get emergency information. Your teen should also know to follow the instructions given by emergency services. If evacuation is what is being asked of them, they should make plans to leave the area. If they are asked to stay off the road they should stay home.
Give your teen a list of things they need in case their electricity were to go out. Things like warm blankets, drinking water, flashlights and lanterns, extra batteries, battery operated radio, food, cash and a bucket with a full tub of water. Explain to them why they need each item. For instance, cash is needed in case the electricity goes out in the entire area and your teen is unable to use their ATM card. Or, if the electricity is out for a day or more and they want to flush their toilet, they will need the bucket and tub of water.
First Aid Emergencies
While it is good to teach your children how to call 911, teenagers and young adults are capable of doing more in a medical emergency. One of the best ways to prepare your teen for this type of emergency is to sign them up for first aid class. Check your community bulletins for dates and times.
Show your teen your first aid kit and help them stock one of their own. Do this even if your teen is not leaving home within the next year. Allow them to practice bandaging themselves with their own kit or role play medical situations with them.
In Case of a Fire Emergency
When your teen moves out of your home, whether it is to a dorm room or an apartment, they will need to come up with an emergency escape route for their new place in case of fire as the one for your home no longer applies. They will also need to check for smoke alarms. If there are no smoke alarms, get some installed for them. Otherwise, check the batteries.
Emergencies on the Road
You'll need to bring to your teen's attention that emergencies aren't always in the home. They may come across the minor accident, break down or have an accident on the road. Your teen should know what to do in these instances. They should have their cell phone to call 911, know how to use hazard lights and flares and know when and not to enter into an emergency situation if the area is dangerous.
What to Do If There Is a Break-In
We don't often link to think of break-in when we think of emergencies. But they do happen and your teen needs to know how to handle this type of emergency. To start, know that it is important to be prepared for this type of emergency by being proactive. Your teen should place locks on the door and remember to lock them - model this behavior in your home - use an alarm system if you live in a high crime area and know where they are able to run to, if needed.
If your teen comes home to a break in, they shouldn't proceed into the house or apartment. They should leave and call 911 allowing the police to see if the perpetrator is still in their home. If they call you first, tell them to get off the phone and call 911. They can call you back after they are done. If they are home and someone tries to break in, they should either get out immediately or if they can't leave, go into a locked room and call 911.
While no one likes to think that an emergency can happen, they do and it is best to be prepared for them. When you teach your teen how to handle emergencies you take away some of the panic they have when they are forced to deal with an emergency situation. While you hope they never have to, if there is a need, they will thank you for these life lessons.