Each day during National Public Health Week, Public Health Newswire will feature guest commentary from our members focusing on the day’s theme. Here is a vignette promoting Tuesday’s theme, “Don’t panic.”

No need to panic if you plan now

Laura Santacrose

Laura Santacrose

by Laura Santacrose, MPH, APHA Maternal and Child Health Section, Student Fellow 2013-2014

While natural disasters and other emergencies are often out of our control, we can control our reaction to these situations, should the need arise. There are lots of ways families can be prepared to handle unexpected situations.

The important thing is to start now, when you are not experiencing an emergency.

Start by making an emergency plan. Ask your pediatrician and/or your child’s school nurse for advice on what to include in an emergency kit. Think about the items you’ll need to have in your home — like nonperishable food, drinking water, candles and matches, flashlight with batteries, first aid kit and medications.

Also have a conversation with your children about what to do in an emergency. Certain family members will need special attention during emergencies and therefore require slightly different planning, such as pregnant women, newborn babies and children with special health care needs.

There are resources available to help families prepare for emergency situations. Use these existing resources, like the Family Readiness Kit created by the American Academy of Pediatrics, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s emergency preparedness tips to help your family get started.

Having a plan in place provides peace of mind and confidence in your ability to handle a disaster. Start now so you don’t need to panic later!