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.
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?
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.
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:
- Find out how your state fares (there’s a button to click in order to send a letter to the governor of your state)
- Share your state’s report card on social media to help spread the word about the need (there are share buttons on the page as well)
- Plan ahead by using these handy checklists for parents and child care professionals
- Donate to Save the Children’s US Emergencies Fund
- Sign up to receive Action Alerts from Save the Children
- After reading this post, share it with your network so more people can see how prepared their state is
Read the full report: Disaster Preparedness in America: The 2013 Report