Is Your State Prepared to Save the Children in a Disaster?

Unfortunately, for 28 states in the US, the answer to the question in the title of this post is “No.”

Save the Children launched a report last week that shows how prepared each state is (or isn’t) if a natural or other disaster happened. As part of its Get Ready. Get Safe campaign, Save the Children’s report is a state-by-state assessment of U.S. preparation and safety standards for children in child care facilities and in schools. This is the sixth year the organization has released a preparedness report.

While progress has been made, more than half of the states still fall short on preparedness.

get ready. get safe.

Only four states – New Jersey, Tennessee, Nebraska and Utah – were congratulated by Save the Children for taking action to protect children over the past year.

In Maine, where I live, we are not prepared. Maine’s rating is “Unsatisfactory” because we do not have a plan to evacuate children from child care, for reuniting families after a disaster or for children with disabilities and those with access and functional needs. The only criteria Maine does pass is having a multi-hazard plan for all K-12 schools.

I know that my 8-year-old has practiced lock down drills in his school since the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and I have noticed more security measures being put in place each year since he started public school. But is it enough?

A street sign among the burnt out homes in the after math of Superstorm Sandy (photo credit: Save the Children)

A street sign among the burnt out homes in the after math of Superstorm Sandy (photo credit: Save the Children)

I hate to think of what would happen if an event like Hurricane Sandy or the Sandy Hook shootings occurred in my town. How long would it take for me to be reunited with my kids if they were at school and/or daycare?

“The devastation left by Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, the Oklahoma tornadoes and the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School should be a wake-up call, but too many states won’t budge.  It’s like they’re stuck in a pre-Katrina world where the gaps in protecting children weren’t so clear.”  ~ Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children

When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, one month after my oldest son was born, it took 6 months to reunite the last child with her family. Imagine not knowing the fate of your child for six entire months.

Save the Children set up a child friendly space at the Reed Intermediate School in Newton following the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. (photo credit: Save the Children)

Save the Children set up a child friendly space at the Reed Intermediate School in Newtown following the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. (photo credit: Save the Children)

We tend not to think about disaster until it’s too late. As Save the Children notes, you can never be too prepared for a disaster.

When I read the report on Maine, I immediately emailed the governor. I also downloaded a disaster checklist for child care providers and gave it to the owner of my daycare.

Save the Children provides some easy actions steps you can take to help your state become more prepared:

Read the full report:  Disaster Preparedness in America: The 2013 Report 

How prepared is your state?

I wrote this post as part of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of Mom Bloggers for Social Good members who focus on maternal health, children, hunger, and women and girls.

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  1. says

    I don’t have kids in school so I’m not sure what they have in our community I’ll be curious to find out however.

    I was recently given a copy for the group home where my intellectually disabled ward lives. It included stores of – a weeks worth of food, water, medication. batteries, procedures for transportation to a predetermined shelter, generators, gas and so forth. The staff all had assigned duties (packing supplies, notifying parents/guardians, securing home etc.)

    It really was very reassuring to know how everything was planned down to the last detail for her and the others in her community.

    Clearly our children deserve a plan to keep them safe and secure as well.
    jen recently posted..things that keep me up at nightMy Profile

  2. says

    Hmm… Massachusetts got “A Great Start!” I’ll take it. It’s not just about state, but my husband always says that no one around here is prepared for disaster. We live in such a peaceful place, but I remember when a freak blizzard hit in October two years ago, and no one could really cope. I remember trying to get gas in town and it was like a zombie apocalypse. It did make us learn more for the future, though. We were spared from Hurricanes Irene and Sandy but my New Jersey family wasn’t.
    I’m just hoping we’re learning more as weather, and humans, will inevitably grow more unpredictable. Or stay as unpredictable as they are.
    Tamara recently posted..I’m Totally Off My Game This Week.My Profile

  3. says

    Like Tamara, I’m glad to see Massachusetts is “off to a great start!” Sam and I decided a little while back that we need to have a little bit of a disaster plan/kit, especially now that we’re going to be parents, but I always thought of it for ourselves and not about how well-prepared our state is. I will definitely be looking into that checklist for providers for down the line. Thanks for sharing!
    Bev recently posted..I Wish I Got More Things Like this in the Mail: August Snail Mail CollectiveMy Profile

    • says

      Considering my kids are in daycare or school all day, it really made me think. Though they are in good hands, they are not well prepared for a disaster. I actually talked to my daycare provider about the report and she said that she had started a plan years ago but never really finished it. She’s inspired to finish it and bring it up in a local provider meeting this week! (Maine doesn’t require disaster plans for child care providers, so it’s not a priority.)
      anotherjennifer recently posted..A Coast Encounter of the Maine TideMy Profile

  4. says

    I never even thought to find out about the evacuation plan for my children’s new school until I read this – along with a whole lot of other things. Thank you Jen for this awareness. This is important stuff.

  5. says

    Oh my… this is SO important!! I am just so glad you brought this to our attention, Jen! I can’t believe how ignorant our states are being in not addressing such a huge and scary “what if”. I will look into Ohio. What a powerful “face reality” post this is. Thank you!
    Chris Carter recently posted..What To Do When You’re SickMy Profile


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