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EMERGENCY Child's First Instinct May Not Be The Safest



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Emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time, and often without warning. Therefore, it is critical to discuss and practice emergency and disaster preparedness plans such as a home fire escape route and severe weather safety plan.

A national survey released by Underwriters Laboratories, an independent product safety organization, reveals that children's initial reactions might actually put them in danger during an emergency. While more than 90 percent of children said they would know exactly what to do if there was an emergency like a fire, only 47 percent chose the safest option: get out of the building immediately.

UL urges families to consider the following safety tips for preparing for the unexpected:

* Children should know their full name, parents' full names, address (including city and state), home phone number (including area code), and parents' work phone numbers or cell phones before leaving the home.

* Designate an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family's emergency contact and keep their information with you at all times.

* Prepare an emergency kit including: five days worth of non-perishable food and water, a can opener, flashlight, portable emergency radio (hand-crank, solar-powered, or battery-operated), batteries, any prescription medication needed by family members, a first-aid kit, list of phone numbers for relatives, neighbors, and utility companies, and pictures and descriptions of your family. If you have pets, include five days worth of canned pet food and water, sturdy leashes, harnesses, or carriers, current photos and descriptions, and a litter box.

* Develop and practice several disaster preparedness plans. Make sure your child knows the first thing he should do in the event of a storm or other disaster, regardless of his location.

* Practice a fire escape route by drawing out a floor plan and mapping out each family member's route of escape making sure each room has two exit options. Designate a meeting place where your family will reunite if separated. Consider posting the fire escape route on refrigerators and in each family member's bedroom.

* Make sure your children know how to respond to an emergency in the environments they frequent including schools, friends' houses, and public buildings like grocery stores. Point out exit signs in public buildings, ensure they actively participate in school fire drills, and talk to their friends' parents about their individual escape plans.

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