158948 Knowledge and behaviors of parents in planning for and dealing with disasters and emergencies at schools

Monday, November 5, 2007: 11:15 AM

Katrina Kubicek, PhDc , Division of Research on Children, Youth and Families, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Marizen Ramirez, PhD , Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine/Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
During the September 11 terrorist attacks, parents across the nation rushed to schools to collect their children when the extent of the disaster was still unknown. Parental ability to effectively respond to an emergency is based on their knowledge of how to prepare, prior experiences and their subsequent reactions. To understand parental response during disasters, qualitative interviews and focus groups were conducted with 65 parents and 98 staff from two school districts in South Los Angeles. Findings indicate that school personnel often worry that parental panic would increase commotion at the school. While parents are somewhat knowledgeable of what should be done in the event of a large-scale disaster, their responses often do not follow those guidelines. For example, parents can identify what supplies may be needed for an emergency or disaster (e.g., water, canned food, first-aid, money). Yet, few actually have these items, and fewer have an emergency plan for their family members (e.g., contact numbers for relatives/friends out-of-state, central meeting point). Parents most often described earthquakes and community violence as among the most likely emergencies in their environment. However, parents were typically unable to describe how to prepare for a violent incident, often citing that this is not something for which one can prepare. Respondents recommend finding new ways to encourage parental involvement at schools to promote a strong and cohesive community in which people work together to prepare for emergencies. Parents should also be involved in more simulation drills to provide them with hands-on training and experience.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the knowledge of parents from South Los Angeles in preparing for disasters and emergencies affecting their children at school. 2. Identify the kinds of emergencies and disasters that parents have experienced in their local communities, and their reactions during these prior experiences. 3. Discuss methods involving parents for promoting emergency preparedness at schools.

Keywords: Disasters, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.