How to Educate Others on the Importance of Emergencies: Preparedness and Response

Emergencies such as conflicts, disasters or epidemics, expose families to risks that make them especially vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and violence. With the right information and support, families and communities can establish measures that map out what to do in an emergency.

Girls, boys and women typically are the most affected by emergencies. An estimated 26 million people were displaced by armed conflicts and violence in 2007. Each year, up to 50 million people are displaced due to disasters. Climate change could increase these numbers.

Displacement undermines families' livelihoods and social support mechanisms. This can lead to family separations and increase children's vulnerability to discrimination, abuse, violence, poverty and exploitation.


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    Understand the importance of emergencies: preparedness and response. In order to spread the message, it is important to know the facts. The basics are:
    • In emergencies, children have the same rights as in non-emergency situations. This is true whether the emergency is a conflict, disaster or epidemic.
    • Girls and boys and their families and communities should plan ahead and take simple steps to prepare for emergencies – at home, at school and in the community.
    • Measles, diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria, malnutrition and neonatal complications are major causes of child deaths, particularly during emergencies.
    • An epidemic (or outbreak) of disease can cause an emergency because of the severity of the disease or responses to it. In the case of pandemic influenza and other diseases spread by close personal contact, those who are ill should be kept separated from others.
    • Mothers, even malnourished mothers, can still breastfeed even under the stressful conditions of emergencies.
    • Children have the right to be protected from violence in emergencies. Governments, civil society, international organizations, communities and families have the responsibility to protect them.
    • It is generally preferable for children to be cared for by their parents or other usual caregivers because it makes children feel more secure. If separation occurs, every effort should be made to reunite the child with his or her family, if it is in the child's best interest.
    • The disruption and stress caused by disasters and armed conflict can frighten and anger children. When such events occur, children need special attention and extra affection. They should be kept as safe as possible and supported in resuming normal activities. Children can be given age-appropriate opportunities to participate in the responses to and decisions regarding the emergency situation.
    • Children have the right to education, even during emergencies. Having children attend a safe, child-friendly school helps to reinforce their sense of normalcy and start the process of healing.
    • Landmines and unexploded devices are extremely dangerous. They can explode and kill or disable many people if touched, stepped on or disturbed in any way. Children and their families should stay only in areas that have been declared safe and avoid unknown objects.
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    Take into consideration what could possibly happen where you live. If you live in the US Midwest, you are unlikely to come across land mines, but you would probably want to prepare for tornadoes or floods.
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    Educate yourself and your family about what to do in various situations.

Sources and Citations

  • UNICEF et al - Facts for Life - "Emergencies: preparedness and response: Supporting Information". Original source of this article. Information free to share under an attribution license.

Article Info

Categories: First Aid and Emergencies