Parents' awareness of disaster plans in children's early learning settings

Am J Disaster Med. 2018 Spring;13(2):85-95. doi: 10.5055/ajdm.2018.0290.


Objective: Children in early learning settings are vulnerable to site-specific emergencies because of physical and developmental limitations. We examined parents' knowledge of disaster plans in their child's early learning settings.

Methods: In May 2015, we conducted a nationally representative online household survey, including parents of children ages 0-5 years in child care settings. Parents were asked about their center's disaster plans and key components: evacuation, special needs children, and disaster supplies. Bivariate analyses and logistic regression were conducted to identify factors associated with parental awareness of disaster plans.

Results: Overall, 1,413 of 2,550 parents responded (rate = 55 percent). Sample included 1,119 parents of children 0-5 years old, with 24 percent (n = 264) requiring child care. Parents' reported knowledge of five types of disaster plans: evacuation (66 percent), power outage (63 percent), severe weather (62 percent), lock-down (57 percent), and delayed parent pick-up (57 percent). Only 21 percent reported if plans included all four key components of evacuation (child identification, parent identification, rapid communication, and extra car seats). One-third (36 percent) reported plans accommodating special needs children. Parents' knowledge of disaster supplies varied: generator (31 percent), radio (42 percent), water (57 percent), food (60 percent), and first aid (82 percent). Parents attending any disaster training events (34 percent) were more likely to be aware of all five types of disaster plans compared with parents who had not attended.

Conclusions: Many parents were unaware of disaster plans at their children's early learning settings. Although few parents attended training events, such participation was associated with higher levels of parental awareness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude
  • Awareness*
  • Child Day Care Centers*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication
  • Disaster Planning*
  • Equipment and Supplies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Schools*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult