Your loved ones have a better chance of survival when there is an evacuation plan in place.

How to Teach Children to Evacuate

by Kathryn Hatter

Although disasters in the home are scary to think about, preparedness is something you need to think about. It is, after all, a vital key to survival. If a fire ignites in the home, you will want your kids to know what to do. And, although kids can behave unpredictably during emergencies, discussing evacuation procedures and practicing them can save lives.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency states that fires and floods cause the most family evacuations every year. If floods threaten your home, follow the instructions from local officials regarding evacuation. Take emergency supplies such as food, water, clothing, medicine, tools and a sleeping bag for each person. Bring your pets along with you, too, as you follow the evacuation route recommended by local officials.

When there is a fire, your children need to know that there is no time to spare. Mention that there isn't time to grab favorite toys. Tell little ones that the most important thing is to drop whatever they're doing and try to get out of the house. Stress that they should never go back for anything, and that they should never try to hide from a fire.

Tell your little ones that smoke rises in a house. This means that during a fire, the air along the floor is the best air for breathing. Make it clear to your youngsters that dropping to the floor and crawling to get out of the house is the best way to avoid the smoke.

Talk about what to do if a closed door is hot. If your youngsters are behind a closed door when they hear a smoke alarm sound, tell the kids to reach out and touch the door before yanking it open. If the door feels hot, tell them not to open the door because flames are likely on the other side of the door. Tell the tots to stuff clothes or towels under the crack in the door to keep smoke out and then run to a window instead. Kids should open the window, if possible, and yell and wave a shirt out the window to get someone to help.

Explain the process if a closed door feels cool. Instruct tots to open the door a little crack and feel the air on the other side of the door. If it feels hot, they should close the door again quickly, seal the bottom crack with clothes and retreat to the window to call for help. If no hot air greets your child, he can open the door wider, drop to the floor and crawl quickly to an exit.

Touch briefly on what your child should do if he runs into a blocked escape path. He needs to turn around fast, crawl back where he came from and try to get help out the window.

Decide on a meeting place outside the house. A big tree in the front yard or the swing set in the backyard might be suitable places for the family to meet. Once everyone gets out, this will enable you to account for everyone.

Practice evacuating with kids and thinking through different scenarios. Try to think of two ways to escape from every room and identify different ways to get through the house to get to exits. The more evacuation options, the better. Give lots of praise when kids practice successfully.


  • Although you may think evacuation preparedness will stress your kids out, it’s imperative that they have this experience to draw on in the event of a real emergency.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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