Family Preparedness Friday

Even Sesame Street Isn’t Immune to Disasters

First of all, let me apologize for having missed a few weeks. As some of you know, I am based out of Purdue University in Indiana. And March is out to prove that old idiom right this year; in like a lion, out like a lamb.

Starting February 29 and continuing through March 3, Indiana – along with several other states – was riddled by severe storms and tornadoes. I have since been responding in the southern part of Indiana.

But now it’s time to get back on track a bit, at least keeping the blog updated again.

Having been working with families affected by the storms, I remembered a great resource for helping children cope with the effects of a disaster. Yes, I know this is a preparedness post, but it all ties together.

Your children’s favorite furry red friend and big yellow bird, Elmo and Big Bird, along with the rest of the gang have great resources for dealing with disaster. If you haven’t checked them out before, slide on over to and give all of Sesame Street’s workshops a look.


Photo Courtesy of

Along with their great preparedness toolkit, Let’s Get Ready! Planning Together for Emergencies, Sesame Street has developed programs helping children deal with loss.

Sesame Street designed an entire series around hurricanes, which in fact relates very well to sever storms and tornadoes. In the series, Big Bird’s nest is destroyed in the hurricane. Through activity books and videos we follow Big Bird through his experience. We watch the Sesame Street community comfort Big Bird when he experiences the initial shock and sadness of losing his home, continue with the story as everyone pitches in to clean up Sesame Street and build a new nest for Big Bird, and finish up with Big Bird settling into his new nest.

Still from's video Hurricane - Part 2

By incorporating familiar characters in your family preparedness efforts, your children will want to become more involved. The characters can also help create a sense of comfort and safety when recovering from a disaster.

For more information about EDEN, visit

Family Preparedness Friday

Plan now, reduce stress later

Are you a planner? Are you an “organized” (that is such a relative word) person? I like to think that I am both.

For example, this is my office.

Pardon the dark picture, in my area we choose to work without the overhead lights turned on.


I would say that my desk looks organized. Remember how I said that was a relative term? Here is what I compare my office against; the boss-man, Steve’s desk.

Please note those bookshelves! Oh my!!


Now, I am not saying Steve isn’t organized or a planner, because he really is. I’m just saying we work in the disaster realm; therefore, our offices tend to look like disasters. And maybe after two years of working in our new offices and publishing this on a very public forum Steve might be motivated to fix those bookshelves.

Now we may have two very different ways of organizing our offices, but we do agree on one thing and that is how to organize a family disaster plan.

A family disaster plan tells everyone in the household what they will do during an emergency. It helps everyone get organized. Having a plan reduces the stress of coping with a disaster in the aftermath.

EDEN delegates from the University of Missouri Extension system have created a disaster plan template to guide you and your family through the process of developing your family’s disaster plan. Creating this plan should be a whole family collaboration, that way everyone knows their role and responsibility in times of emergency.

Click here to go to the University of Missouri’s Family Disaster Plan electronic template. The template allots for two adult family members, two child family members, and six pet family members. If you need templates for additional family members don’t worry; click here for adults, here for children, and here for pets.

While we know this is an electronic document, remember to have a hard copy of this document as well.

Organize your family disaster plan now, to help reduce the effects of disasters later. Now I’m off to see if I can get Steve motivated to organize his office.

Family Preparedness Friday

Don’t Forget the Doggie!

This week’s post comes to you from my remote location in beautiful New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve had meetings here all week; which means I have been away from my family all week. I sadly had to leave my husband and children at home. Not let me clarify, the children in our household are fur-babies.

Holden, the chocolate lab, and Arie, the pug

Please meet, Holden the slightly chubby overly-lovable, chocolate lab and Arie the often completely wild and insane rambunctious, pug. I know that I am the same as many other animal owners when I say that my pets are part of my family.

The likelihood that you and your animals will survive emergencies or disasters such as a fire, earthquake, flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning.

If possible, if an emergencies or disasters force you to evacuate your home, take your pets with you. However, if you are going to a public shelter, understand that animals may not be allowed inside. For example, Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets due to health and safety regulations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are the only exception. Make plans for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets.

Be prepared for an emergency or disaster. Assemble animal emergency supply kits and develop a pet-care plan that will work whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location. Keep in mind that what is best for you is typically best for your animals. Create kits for each pet for at least three days, and store the supplies in a pet carrier that’s ready to go.

Kits should include:

  • Pet identification securely attached and current photos of your pets in case they get lost
  • Medications, first-aid kit and veterinary records (stored in a waterproof container)
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals cannot escape
  • Three days’ food supply (one ounce/per pound each day), potable water, bowls, can opener if canned food
  • Pet towel or blanket; pet beds and toys if easily transportable
  • Plastic bags for waste
  • Cat litter/pan
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets

In the event of evacuation, do not leave pets behind. However, if it’s impossible to take them, make sure plenty of dry food and water are available.

For more information look at the EDEN Family Preparedness Course or FEMA’s Information for Pet Owners page.