Children's Hospital Colorado

How to Prepare for an Emergency

A clipboard with a paper that says Emergency Preparedness Checklist circled in red and the first item on the list is Flashlight.

Emergency preparedness tips for parents

Everyone should be prepared to implement their own personal emergency management plan. Although emergencies usually happen when we least expect them, there are certain things that we can do to help make sure they are well managed. Here are some tips to prepare for an emergency.

Create a disaster kit

  • Families should have basic supplies on hand in order to survive for at least three days if an emergency occurs (enough of each item for every member of the family – and don’t forget your pets).
    1.) Water (at least one gallon of water for each person per day)
    2.) Non-perishable foods (with a can opener)
    3.) Needed medical supplies, such as prescriptions or contact lenses
    4.) First-Aid Kit
    5.) Flashlight and radio (with extra batteries)
    6.) Blankets
  • Change stored food and water supplies every six months. Be sure to write the date on all containers.
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change. Also, most shelters won’t allow you to bring your pets, so plan accordingly.

Create a family plan

  • Make sure your children know their first and last name as well as their address and a phone number for parents.
  • Meet with your family and discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.
  • Make sure everyone in the family knows where they are supposed to meet in case they are separated for various emergencies: 
    - Choose a place right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.
    - Select a location within your home that would be a safe place to go during a tornado warning.
    - Choose a location outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
  • Decide on an out-of-state friend or family member to be the single point of contact for your family.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency has made it simple for you to make a family emergency plan. Download the Family Communication Plan for Parents and Kids.
  • Sesame Street also offers great tool kits for young children on preparing for emergencies.

How to reassure kids after a tragedy

  • Children can experience fear and anxiety even if they aren’t involved directly in a tragedy by watching it on TV or hearing others talk about it.
  • When talking with your child, be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable.
  • Limit access to reminders about the tragedy (media coverage, adult discussions, etc).
  • Encourage children to discuss their feelings and listen without judgment, and reassure them that the traumatic event was not their fault.
  • If your children are fearful, reassure them that you love them and will take care of them. 
  • Get tips on how to help children talk about and cope with upsetting events.

How to decide between urgent or emergency care

Not all urgent care locations or hospitals are created equal. At all Children's Hospital Colorado Emergency and Urgent Care locations, everyone from doctors to lab techs specialize in pediatrics. And, as the hospital that sees, treats and cures more kids than all other Colorado hospitals combined, we have more pediatric experience than any other hospital in Colorado. This expertise helps us offer faster and more accurate diagnoses, and start treatment sooner. 

If a child is choking or needs immediate care, the best choice is to call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Department. But, when possible, driving to a Children's Colorado pediatric urgent or emergency care location closest to you can help ensure your child gets the absolute best care, even for something as simple as stitches or a broken bone. 

Learn more about why kids need Children’s Colorado and the difference between Urgent and Emergency Care.

Donating blood during tragedies

We all want to help those in need, and never is there a greater need than during a disaster. So that we at Children’s Hospital Colorado can also be prepared, please consider giving blood or platelets. To schedule an appointment, please call 720-777-5398 or send an email.

For more information on how to keep your family prepared for a disaster, visit or

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