Using Zombies to Teach Children About Preparedness in Emergencies
Follow the Zombie Trend
My young niece came to me, face smeared with frosting from her Halloween cupcake. "Look, Auntie, I'm a zombie!" She giggled, further smearing the frosting all over herself.
She then recounted a book that she had read, telling about the book. I listened, realizing that this was a great chance to educate about real emergencies.
We talked about zombies, and she listened, sharing with me the tales of a young boy in her children's book, who was running away from zombies. She showed me the illustrations, where the young hero was able to overcome obstacles in his path.
Using the boy as an example, the conversation of emergency situations was not as frightening as contemplating emergencies that could happen to my niece and her family, but instead as contemplating coming up with ways to help the young boy in her book.
Emergencies can happen, and we should prepare our children.
Indulge the Zombie Fantasy, But Ask Your Child Questions Along the Way
As my niece continued on with her tale of zombies, I would interject with questions.
"What would you do if you were lost like the little boy in the story?" My niece would answer, and then we would talk about the options open to her.
"What if you were hurt while running from a zombie? How would you fix your injury?" and so on. It was a good and effective way to have a dialogue with her without bringing up scary topics like natural disasters.
In the conversation that she and I had, the little boy in a children's story survived running from zombies. He then was in a house that caught fire, an earthquake, and so on, all while the zombies were looking for him. Each disaster that we talked about was a conversation in caring for herself in a natural disaster. I was able to share with her how to keep safe.
In a real crisis, getting lost from adults can occur. I explained that it would be normal to be scared, and that she would need to be calm. The comment "Or zombies would get me and eat my brains" was uttered several times by a giggling girl.
First Aid with a Zombie Slant
The next time we went to a store, it was a pleasant surprise. My young niece wanted to create a first aid kit for herself, "in case the apocalypse happened".
I explained that real first aid kits were not something to play with, and that if she wanted a toy kit, we could get her one. She wanted a real one, to have first aid supplies.
We chose a small snap top container from the dollar store, and then added supplies, like bandages, adhesive bandages, ointment, and a few other safe supplies. It was just after Halloween, so all Halloween themed merchandise was on sale. We purchased Halloween stickers for pennies on the dollar. Her theme was of course, zombies.
When we got back home, she was delighted to show everyone her "Real First Aid Kit". In less than an hour, she would get to bring out her kit when a sibling fell, cutting a knee. She was delighted to be able to help a sibling, and she explained over and over how to properly care for a wound. I was delighted to know that our conversation had remained with her about how to care for hurt people.
When you have a child old enough to understand things like injuries and cuts, the Red Cross and other organizations offer excellent classes on simple first aid. Enrolling them is an excellent step.
Learning More First Aid, Building On the Past Knowledge
Although my niece is no longer as drawn to zombies as she once was, she is still very aware of what to do in all sorts of emergencies. She still has her first aid kit in her room, where as a rough and tumble kid, the kit sees regular use. When I offered to buy her a new kit, she told me that she still liked her zombie kit, and that even with all the duct tape and new stickers on it, it was cool.
She has now taken first aid classes, CPR classes, and safe babysitter classes. I saw her with a small patch on a jacket that showed a zombie with the words "Zombie Hunter" on it. She showed it to me, and then said "I hunt zombies".
In having a great outlet to talk about emergencies, it made a real emergency evacuation easier when there was a weather situation that we had to leave her home immediately. My niece was very comfortable as we left, and even asked me very pertinent questions. Her older sister was also comfortable because we had talked about what to do when you evacuate a long time ago.
Without building on the excitement of zombie fever, I don't believe that our evacuation would have been as smooth. Children in the emergency center we were evacuated to were not as calm, and I believe a good part of it was due to the talks we had over the years about emergencies.
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