Emergencies are scary and we never know when they will happen. For families with special needs children, the uncertainty and potential challenges during emergencies can be even more daunting. Putting a plan in place with some preparation can help ensure the well-being of your child. The key to successful emergency planning is to create a tailored plan that addresses your child’s specific needs because who knows a child better than their parents or caregivers. Things to take into consideration are any sensory, cognitive, or physical needs that will benefit your child.

Emergency Kits for your child’s needs

Preparing an emergency kit that is tailored to your child’s needs can be a crucial tool in the case of an emergency. Having this with you may put some stress at ease knowing you have got the tools to aid you and your child. You may want to make sure that you don’t just have survival items but sensory items and activities to potentially aid with dysregulation.

Potential items to keep in your emergency kits are:

  • Medication/ Medical equipment (e.g. Epi-pen, band-aids, puffer, etc.)
  • Food & Water
  • Comfort items (e.g. teddy, blanket)
  • Sensory items/ fidgets
  • Reward items (E.g. Food, stickers, etc.)
  • Headphones
  • Communication devices with spare batteries/ plugs (AAC)
  • ID card/ lanyard with key info and emergency contacts
  • Emergency records/ Care plan
  • Visual supports/ picture cards


Emergency Drills

Getting any child involved in an emergency drill is easier said than done but having your child with special needs become familiar with the activity may alleviate some stress and confusion if involved in a real emergency. If you can involve your child in a drill then great, but for many children emergency drills can be scary as it disrupts routine and is loud. So, if doing a standard emergency drill is not going to work for you and your child, then here are some alternative ways you can introduce or practice emergency action.

  • listening to different alarms quietly on a device together, getting the child used to the sounds.
  • listening to or creating social stories about emergencies and what to do. Using real pictures of your local area, like your hospital or school’s Assembly Area will help the child better familiarise themselves.
  • Take walks to the emergency exits and practice getting there safely at your most frequently visited locations like the swimming pool or library. You may even turn this into a game “see who gets there the quickest”.
  • Reading children’s emergency books together like “Maggie and the Emergency Room” by Martine Davison or “Emergency!” by Margaret Mayo.
  • Use teaching toys like stethoscopes, fire trucks and police lights.
  • Make visual step by step processes with your child and flip through them together. Even use some Velcro and see if your child can put the steps in the right order.

Doing activities like this with your child will help them get a better understanding of what may happen and you may well both probably have fun along the way.

Running the drills and testing the personal emergency plan helps to fine tune it and make sure you, your child and other caregivers responsible for the child are prepared and trained.

There’s support out there!

Disasters and emergencies can happen without warning to anyone. Planning and preparing is an essential step to help you and your family to be healthy, and safe in an emergency. You as parents or caregivers know your child best, but it may be also a great idea to reach out to your child’s doctor, Occupational Therapist, or us here at Workplace Emergency Management to assist you with putting an personal emergency plan together.

Workplace Emergency Management is equipped with friendly and qualified consultants who specialise in safety management. Our team can provide a simple and cost-effective means to ensure your Emergency Plans are compliant and simple to follow. When providing training, our consultants know how to keep people engaged during our interactive and entertaining training sessions.

Not only can Workplace Emergency Management ensure your compliance, but we can provide your team, family, and/or your school with the assurance that you are prepared to cover all circumstances when faced with an emergency. Get in touch today for more information.


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