Summer camps mean summer fun — and disaster preparedness

Have you ever tried to tell a child it’s time to stop playing outside?  As tough as it may be to tell one child to make the next cannonball in the pool their last because it’s dinnertime, imagine gathering a group of dozens of kids who are having fun at summer camp.

These campers are disaster prepared. Image: FEMA
As regular Get Ready Blog readers know, disasters and emergencies can occur anywhere. And that means they can occur when kids are away from home, as well. Luckily, at summer camps, there are grown-ups in charge who are working hard to keep kids safe while they’re having fun.

But that doesn’t mean that they can’t use a little help getting ready. In fact, a recent survey found that many U.S. summer camps aren’t completely prepared to handle situations like prolonged power outages or evacuations.

So what can you,as a parent do? For one, ask your summer camp for a copy of its disaster plan. Provide resources owners and counselors can use to prepare for emergencies. Connect them with local partners and officials who can help them make plans.

You can also help your child get ready for any disasters that may occur while away at camp. For example, you can:

  • Pack a camp preparedness kit. Your child will need a flashlight and batteries to get around camp at night. But it makes sense to have other emergency items as well, like first-aid supplies, a whistle, snacks and an emergency information card.
  • Make a communications plan. How will you and your child communicate during an emergency? Make sure your children have a list of emergency contacts in their phones and on paper. Identify a third-party contact, like a friend or family member out of town, who can be reached if you can’t.
  • Be prepared for the heat. Summer camps mean summer weather, which usually means heat. Make sure your child knows how to be prepared for hot weather and to recognize the signs of heat illness.
  • Watch out for mosquitoes and ticks. They can carry diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Pack plenty of bug repellent. And know how to check for and remove ticks.
  • Watch out for rodents. Cabins and campgrounds can be home to mice and other rodents, which can spread diseases. Tell your kids not to touch rodents, dead or alive, and to tightly pack up food so rodents aren’t tempted to come inside. 

For even more summer safety tips for kids, check out this page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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