"Is your child care center preparing for disasters? " Denise Green-Grisham Matagorda County Extension Agent – 4H & Youth Development Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

   If you operate a child care center or family day home, are you prepared for an emergency or disaster? 
   An area of risk management that sometimes gets neglected or overlooked is disaster management. 
   Being prepared for natural and man-made disasters is an integral part of an overall disaster management plan. 
   Questions that come to mind regarding disaster preparedness include: 
   Do we have a plan, and is it up to date? 
   Does our plan cover preparedness, response, and recovery efforts? 
   Can we find our plan? 
   Has the staff been trained on how to use the plan? 
   Have we practiced it enough? 
   Have we adequately informed parents about the plan?
   Are we prepared to evaluate in case of a disaster?
   Do we have disaster supply kits?
   Are we prepared, if necessary, to shelter in place? 
   “How you answer these questions can make a difference in how prepared you are for an emergency or disaster and the aftermath that follows,” says Dr. Rick Peterson, Assistant Professor and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Parenting Specialist. 
   Being prepared is critical to minimize the trauma and stress associated with a disaster or emergency for staff, children, and parents. 
   Children are considered to be a vulnerable population during a disaster and as such need the protection of adults. 
   “Children have characteristics that make them susceptible to the effects of disaster,” says Peterson. “For example, young children, age birth to two, have little understanding of cause and effect relationships and past experience to deal with the crisis. 
   However, 2-5 year olds may have abandonment fears after a disaster. 
   Those children who are directly impacted by the disaster may experience both physical and psychological trauma effects of disaster,” says Peterson. 
   In some cases, children may incur long-term problems such as depression, prolonged grief, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
   Child care providers need to be prepared for emergencies and disasters, as they can occur quickly and without warning and can threaten the health and safety of the children and staff.
   Fortunately, there are resources available to assist child care administers and providers in their preparedness planning. 
   Child care emergency preparedness guides can be accessed from several Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service websites: Disaster Education Network (EDEN) at http://texashelp.tamu.edu/ and Extension’s Family Consumer Sciences website under Child Care at http://fcs.tamu.edu/.
   Remember, being prepared is the best protection for you, your staff, the children in your care, and their parents.   

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