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06 September 2019

Queensland fires

Top 10 tips for keeping children safe during bushfires

Bushfire season has started early in Queensland with multiple fires already burning across the state and further dangerous conditions forecast over the coming days.

With children being especially vulnerable in times of crisis, Save the Children is releasing ten tips to keep children safe during bushfire season.

Save the Children’s Southern QLD Programs Manager Justin Elstob said that when disaster strikes, parents and carers often have lots of things to deal with and the specialised care children need might not always be top of mind. 

“Children experience a crisis differently to adults, so it is important help them through these difficult times in a way that is best suited to them, and to provide them with extra care and attention,” Mr Elstob said.

“From simple considerations such as packing toys or games in your bushfire kit to entertain kids if they are away from home, to seeking professional psychological care in the aftermath of a disaster – children have specific needs to keep in mind.

“Everybody should have a bushfire plan and Save the Children’s child focused tips are designed to help include your kid’s needs in this plan.”

Save the Children’s top 10 tips to keep children safe during bushfires:

  1. Prepare a bushfire plan that addresses the needs of everyone in your family, including children, and make sure everyone knows it.  

  2. Children should be included when preparing for bushfire season and practicing your family bushfire plan. For example, helping to prepare for bushfires by raking up leaves around the house or closing all windows and fill buckets with water around your house when practising your bushfire plan. 

  3. Make sure children know their full name and that of their mother, father or carer in case they are separated from their family. 

  4. Decide on an emergency meeting point and make sure all children know where it is so that if your family is separated, everyone knows where to meet. 

  5.  Calmly keep kids informed about the emergency and your plan to minimise worry and uncertainty. 

  6. Prepare an emergency kit for the bushfire season and include protective clothing for the whole family – woollen jumpers, long trousers and boots or closed shoes. 

  7. In your emergency kit include essential supplies for young children like baby formula and nappies, as well as toys to make them feel more comfortable. If you have a child with special health needs make sure you include any essential medication in your emergency kit. 

  8. During a bushfire, try to create or maintain a structure or routine for children. This helps them to better cope psychologically by providing a sense of normalcy despite the ongoing changes and disruption around them.

  9. If your family experiences a bushfire emergency remember that children will need extra reassurance and support in the immediate aftermath and possibly for a longer time. 

  10. Families should seek assistance to from recovery services to help them to cope after experiencing a bushfire. 

Save the Children has been delivering education, health and child protection programming in Queensland since 1919. Today, we are based in 18 remote regional and metropolitan locations across the state creating long-term, positive change for children and families experiencing multiple and complex challenges in life.

For interviews, call Jess Brennan on 0421 334 918.

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