8 things you need to know about getting your family through a natural disaster

Shorefront
Flooding is something that we unfortunately had to go through as a whanau (family)

The day the birds stopped singing

Son, I hope you never have to go through anything like this.  But if you do then here are 8 things to help your family get through a natural disaster.  I’ve written a post about this day.  If you get to this post first then read this at the end, it explains the flood, when it happened and also the impact that it had on us.  The day the birds stopped singing

Going through a natural disaster is tough.  Luckily we were prepared, which has helped us get through.  I hope that you never have to deal with this in your future but if you do here’s some things I would recommend to do!

Here is 8 things for families to think about in a natural disaster or emergency.

1. Emergency Kit

It is essential to have an emergency kit.  So many people were caught out without some really basic gear.  There were a tonne of ads here in Aotearoa about getting through after the Christchuch earthquakes.  Luckily for us we have always had an emergency kit but we improved them during this time.  Here is a list of what you’ll need!

  • Torch with spare batteries or a self-charging torch
  • Radio with spare batteries
  • Wind and waterproof clothing, sun hats, and strong outdoor shoes.
  • First aid kit and essential medicines
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Pet supplies
  • Toilet paper and large rubbish bags for your emergency toilet
  • Face and dust masks
  • Toys (most people don’t recommend this but we certainly do if you have children.  You need to maintain some form of normality during these situations)

Food and water for at least three days

  • Non-perishable food (canned or dried food)
  • Food, formula and drinks for babies and small children
  • Water for drinking. At least 3 litres per person, per day
  • Water for washing and cooking
  • A primus or gas barbeque to cook on
  • A can opener

Check and replace food and water every twelve months. Consider stocking a two-week supply of food and water for prolonged emergencies such as a pandemic.

Get Away Kit / Grab bag

In some emergencies you may need to evacuate in a hurry. Everyone should have a packed getaway kit in an easily accessible place at home and at work which includes:

  • Torch and radio with spare batteries
  • Any special needs such as hearing aids and spare batteries, glasses or mobility aids
  • Emergency water and easy-to-carry food rations such as energy bars and dried foods in case there are delays in reaching a welfare centre or a place where you might find support. If you have any special dietary requirements, ensure you have extra supplies
  • First aid kit and essential medicines
  • Essential items for infants or young children such as formula and food, nappies and a favourite toy
  • Change of clothes (wind/waterproof clothing and strong outdoor shoes)
  • Toiletries – towel, soap, toothbrush, sanitary items, toilet paper
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Face and dust masks
  • Pet supplies

Include important documents in your getaway kit: identification (birth and marriage certificates, driver’s licences and passports), financial documents (e.g. insurance policies and mortgage information), and precious family photos. – on this flood we didn’t have these items and Papa went back for them.  Not ideal so we have added them to our grab bag

All of the above information came from http://getthru.govt.nz/how-to-get-ready/emergency-survival-items/


 

2.Have a plan

An evacuation plan is something that helps.

When something like this hits, you don’t want to be thinking about what needs to be done.  An evacuation plan is agreed upon between everyone so if disaster strikes everyone understands the plan.  With little ones their needs to be more thought put into it.  The most important things are:

  • How your going to leave
  • Where you will meet up, (especially if you are in different places, phones etc may not work)
  • Who is going to grab what
  • Which way your going
  • Who will get your pets
  • How your going to account for everyone, and what is important to you
  • Routes you will take
  • Where you are going
  • Radio stations to listen to
  • Emergency phone no’s and civil defence numbers

With little ones you really need to think about how you are going to talk to them.  We have been through a Tsunami evacuation and a flood.  With both of these there wasn’t really a lot of thought.   It is an emergency, but there is always time to make sure your children are comfortable with what is going on.

3. Stay Calm

In an emergency staying calm is something that is really difficult to do.  Your body goes into fight, flight response.  Which raises your stress level.  This is not such a bad thing because sometimes you need a sense of urgency.  But with children, calmness is important.  Being prepared is part of being calm.  When everyone understands what needs to happen there is a sense of calm that comes with that.

In moments like these your children will look to you to decide how they feel.  Be calm, no one needs someone who is loosing it.

Searching the beach for our belongings. This is some of the building materials for the deck that we built together.

4. Make it an adventure

Explain to your children what is going on, let them know its going to be an adventure.

“Son, there is some water outside, we are going to get past it onto the truck.  It’s going to be an adventure are you able to help me”.  There are so many things you can say, it needs to be honest, but also have a sense of kid talk.

Playing mini golf at Miranda holiday park while we were waiting for our home to be repaired

5. Make  it fun

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing fun about a disaster.  But you have two choices, positive, negative.  Nothing  about water rushing through your home is fun.  It is not great returning to your home to find the things you love ruined.  Children don’t need to see that though.  Keep yourself together, when you have your chance show your feelings in private.

If your like us and you have to leave your home while repairs are being made.  Make it fun.  We were lucky, in the fact that our insurance placed us in a holiday park.  This meant we were able to give it a different feel, like we were going on holiday.  Check out the holiday park here.  Miranda Holiday Park.

It is so important to keep your children in mind.  If it is traumatic for you, than there is going to be an affect on them.

6. Have insurance

So many people asked us if we were insured.  I naturally thought differently as we have never not been insured.  But recently with all of the flooding that has affected so many people here in New Zealand there are so many stories of people not having insurance.

We are insured with AA insurance, they have been really helpful through this process.  You really don’t need any added stress.  We have lost our car, and so many items from our home.  The damage to our home is extensive, so being insured has been a lifesaver.

There are so many reasons to make sure that your insured.  You never know what is going to happen and its better in my opinion to be paying money to your insurer and have nothing happen, than to not pay, have something happen, and no money to repair your home, replace belongings.

Even in the mist of it all you remained positive

7.  Be ready for your kids to show their feeling

Keep a close eye on your kids during this hard time.  They will act differently.  Change can be a scary thing and when it is forced on you then it can have an impact.  When they need you be there, be there, tell them it is ok.  This could come out in different behaviour, or even just plain out crying.  It is important to be conscious of the affect, and not scold your children for behaviour that is coming from the massive change that has gone on in their life.

8. Remain positive

You have two choices son, positive, negative.

Remain positive.  If you and your family are ok, then everything will be fine.  Refocus yourself quickly to something you need to do.  I put time into making a video for our stay at the holiday park.  It is so important to keep your mind in the right place.

Keep positive, you were so resilient throughout the whole experience.  Fishing off our deck, making it fun.  I think there was more I gained from you then you from me.

Getting through

I hope this gives you some tips son, and also helps you to understand something that I believe you will remember when you are older.

Getting through is about being prepared son.



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