The world is a scary place these days, no doubt. This morning, I dropped my daughter off at school with a million "what ifs" running through my head. As I watched her walk into the building, I was already counting down the minutes until she came home.
We have talked a bit about what to do in case something bad happens when we aren't together. And as hard as it is to imagine the worst, I've always believed it's better to be prepared and have some plan instead of none.
But there is still more we could do to prepare for an emergency, and we aren't alone. In fact, a recent poll by the National Center on Disaster Preparedness showed that 41 percent of American families don't know where their kids would be evacuated to in case of emergency.
Look, we can't prevent some emergencies, but we can do our best to be prepared. That is the message behind a new new kid-friendly PSA featuring the characters from 20th Century Fox's upcoming animated movie Ice Age: Collision Course.
Confession: My favorite character is the little guy who is constantly searching for his acorn. But I'm getting off course. (Get it? Okay.) So another important idea in this PSA, which is brought to families by Save the Children, the leading national organization for child-focused emergency readiness and relief, is that talking to kids about emergency planning can be scary, but it's still a must.
And that is how this PSA can serve as an icebreaker. (Get it? Fine, I'll stop.) But the truth is that animated characters telling kids how vital it is to have a plan in an emergency is not scary at all. One tip offered by my beloved Scrat and his friends is to have kids carry an ICE, or "in case of emergency," card.
The card should contain important information about the child, including contact details and allergies to medication, as well as people to call if parents are unreachable.
Here are more tips on how to talk about preparedness with your child, and how to establish an ICE plan:
Break the ICE: Watch the PSA and ask your child what they think the message is.
Talk about Why: Talk about the top disaster risks in your area, and explain that it's important to have a plan to reunite quickly during emergencies. Letting children know you're planning ahead to keep them safe helps them feel safe—both before and during an emergency.
Talk about Who: Each child should have three emergency contacts that any camp counselor, teacher, or caregiver can reach out to. Because local power and phone service can be disrupted during emergencies, it's important to have one out-of-town contact as well. Practice learning these numbers with your child.
Make the ICE cards together: Enter the three contacts along with your child's medical info at www.SavetheChildren.org/ICE, upload a photo, and print out your cards at home.
Keep them within arms reach: Get two copies of your child's card. Discuss the bag, wallet, or other place where you each will keep yours so it will always be nearby.
Oh, and go see Ice Age: Collision Course when it hits theaters on July 22!
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.