(274810)

Last week many schools across the LA County opened their doors and welcomed students back for in-person classes. While the pandemic morphs and changes with different strains, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region reminds students and parents that ensuring your safety includes disaster preparedness.

“Parents and kids are both eager to get back to normal and return to the classroom as a new school year starts,” said Guillermo Sanchez, Regional Preparedness Manager for the Red Cross in Los Angeles. “But don’t forget to make safety a top priority.”

Disasters often strike quickly and without warning. They are frightening for adults and can be traumatic for children. Your family may have to leave home and change your daily routine. Be prepared to give your children guidance that will help reduce their fears.

• Find out which disasters are most common where you live and visit our emergency resource library for specific tips on what to do and discuss. For example, if you live in an earthquake-prone area, your child should be taught to DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.

• Know the emergency plan at your child’s school in case a disaster or an unforeseen event occurs. Find out what their emergency plans are so that you can reinforce them at home.

• Talk about emergency preparation with your family so that everyone knows what to do, especially where to meet and who to call. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children.

• Involve your entire family in preparation activities, such as assembling a survival kit. Children can feel reassured knowing there’s a plan in place.

The Red Cross offers youth preparedness courses and programs to help children develop the skills and confidence they may need in an emergency. Our age-appropriate preparedness materials educate youth with engaging activities and easy action steps. Sign up for one of the Red Cross free virtual emergency preparedness classes in English or Spanish. In dorm rooms:

• Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.

• Test all smoke alarms at least once a month.

• Never remove batteries or disable a smoke alarm.

• If you live in an apartment or house, make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping room, outside every sleeping area and on each level of the apartment unit or house. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the apartment unit or house should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.

• If you live in a dormitory, make sure your sleeping room has a smoke alarm, or your dormitory suite has a smoke alarm in each living area as well as the sleeping room.

• Learn two ways to get outside from classrooms and living quarters. You never know when an emergency will happen. Learn your building evacuation plans and practices drills as if they were the real thing.

• When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out. Never go back into the home after you have left unless the fire department says it is safe.

The Red Cross First Aid App provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies whether it be before, during or after school. Download the app for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn and practice first aid and CPR skills by taking a course (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.