In a previous column, we talked about how to effectively handle an emergency and the types of services that the installation offers. In this edition, I would like to cover the importance of how children should handle emergencies. For any adult who has children in his or her presence, it is important to consider the similarities and differences between how adults and children are affected by an emergency.
This leads us into the first point. A critical point to consider. As adults we have a broader understanding of our surroundings. We as service members have been through many emergency training sessions – directly connected to our line of work or within a broader scope. Even our military-connected adult family members have been exposed to impactful experiences of being fully in charge of running a household while the sponsor is deployed to having lived overseas. However, within the minds of children, they are still formulating opinions as to the world around them, obviously the younger a child is, the more applicable this notion is. With that in mind, you may want to consider the importance of engaging in dialog with your children assessing different scenarios without spilling the proper Course of Action (COAs) upfront. Afford them the opportunity to explore their rationale (e.g. "You're with daddy running errands and he pulls over the side of the road and appears to be sleeping and can't wake up. What do you do?")
This leads us to the next vital step that we should all take during an emergency and that is to dial 911. This is one step where surprisingly even some adults are guilty of circumnavigating. While it ultimately comes down to a parental choice, varying with the age of a child, I would urge you to teach your children how to dial 911 using your smart phones (and home lines should you still have such service). There is no substitute for someone other than you knowing how to communicate during a time of crisis. As adults, we take it for granted that if we're incapacitated that some other capable person will be able to dial 911 for us. However, what if the child and you are alone?
Along with trying to instill in children an understanding of the types of emergencies you can encounter, you should also consider the importance of a child being able to describe surroundings. Something as simple a memorizing a home address, the name of a neighborhood to being able to state what city you are in as you bounce between the installation and our immediate surrounding communities. Navigation runs in the blood of all who call NAS Lemoore home, and as far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as too young to start navigating. Make it fun and engage in some navigational challenge with your little ones as you drive around.
Next is being able to engage in dialog with a 911 operator. Reinforce to the child that the other person on the end of the phone is there to assist them. Let them know that instructions coming from such an adult are verifiably legitimate. Soon after the child ought to expect first responders arriving on scene and to follow their instructions.
For those with children who may have smartphones of their own with corresponding social media accounts, consider reminding them of the importance of tending to the emergency first and providing it its due serious consideration; and, to not be tempted by the allure of broadcasting on social media until things have settled. They should also take great care with what they broadcast. In this digital age, what may seem conducive behavior for an adolescent, can potentially haunt them later in life.
What is described above should be part of any family's emergency action plan - a plan that gets rehearsed regularly, hopefully. For additional tips on how to prepare for an emergency, visit https://www.caloes.ca.gov/for-individuals-families https://www.facebook.com/ReadyNavy/
Finally, as you have these discussions with your children, don't be surprised if they nail the most optimal COA right out of the gate.