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Preparing and protecting children for emergencies

Pediatric Alliance doctor provides tips for keeping families safe and well-prepared

With emergencies such as flooding and power outages happening in the Pittsburgh region all of the time, we are continually reminded that disasters can strike anyone, anywhere.

“Children are especially vulnerable in these situations so it is important that parents do as much as they can to plan ahead and prepare their families for possible disasters,” explains Dr. Bruce Hyde, a board-certified pediatrician who specializes in community health issues at Pediatric Alliance’s North Hills Division.

Dr. Hyde recommends parents take the following steps to keep their family safe and well-prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster:

  • Contact your local emergency management office, health department, or American Red Cross chapter.  It is also important to find out what your community’s warning signals sound like and what to do if you hear them.
  • Hold a family meeting.  Make sure to keep it simple and work as a team.
  • Fill out a card with local emergency phone numbers and child identification cards.
  • Have a plan in case you are separated. Choose a place to meet outside your home and outside your neighborhood in case you cannot go home and discuss several escape routes.
  • Choose someone out of town to be your family contact.  Each family member and any babysitter must know the address and phone number for the out of town family members you have selected as contacts.
  • Become familiar with the specifics of your child’s daycare or school disaster plans in case you are separated during a disaster.
  • Plan how to take care of your pets.
  • Practice escape plans every six months with your children.
  • Test your smoke alarms every month and replace the batteries every six months when daylight savings time begins and ends.
  • Teach your children how to call each emergency number and to keep personal identification information with them at all times.

“Parents should also remember that the psychological effects of a natural disaster do not go away once the emergency has passed and should be on the lookout for signs that their kids need some extra counseling. Children are able to cope better with a traumatic event if parents, teachers and other adults support and help them with their experiences,” says Dr. Hyde.

Pediatric Alliance provides high quality, comprehensive primary and specialty care (asthma, allergy, immunology and endocrinology) to infants, children and adolescents through clinical expertise, advocacy, education, collaboration, research, and information management. As the largest physician owned group pediatric practice in the Pittsburgh region, Pediatric Alliance offers 10 different office locations.