Fun & Games
When planning for emergency situations, the focus is so often on the aspect of meeting physical necessities for survival that other things are not taken into account. If a natural disaster, such as a severe winter storm, makes it so you are unable to leave your house for a week, what are you going to do besides eat food and huddle under blankets to stay warm? As odd as it may seem, including forms of entertainment, in your emergency preparedness plan, can be a great asset to cope with an emergency or unpleasant situation.
Having fun activities, to lighten the mood, can be especially useful during a natural disaster or other type of emergency. Undergoing too much stress has been shown to be detrimental to physical, mental, and emotional health; something you would certainly wish to avoid during a crisis.
Chances are that there will be some amount of time during any given emergency situation when you are not busily occupied. Therefore, it is important to have a range of entertainment activities available for your family, especially if you have children. Don't count on having electricity (for TV, movies, or video games) available to entertain everyone. Planning ahead, by providing a variety of activities, can help family members remain calm and relatively stress-free.
If you have a decent number of books in your home, they can help family members pass the time. If you have young children, you can also read to them. And even if you don’t own very many books, you can always check them out from the library for free. Having a supply of books on hand is certainly a good option for the whole family.
Having a variety of non-electronic games is also a good idea. Board games and card games are, generally, much cheaper than video games, and allow for the entire family to play together. There are several different games that can be played with an ordinary deck of playing cards.
Of course, battery-operated electronic games (such as older Gameboy systems that use regular batteries) are still an option during a power outage. Newer handheld electronics, that use rechargeable batteries, will only last as long as their battery life. A portable DVD player can also provide another source of entertainment when TV is not available.
Planning for entertainment options can also be useful in preparing a 72-Hour Kit. While you should not load up these kits with heavy games and books, remembering to include a pack of playing cards or other small, lightweight entertainment options
can be a good idea.
While it may not seem like one of the most important parts of your emergency preparedness plans, taking a little extra time to plan for how to keep your family entertained can play a big role in how well everyone is able to deal with these challenges. Providing games and activities, that help reduce your family’s stress and worry, will certainly help them get through an emergency situation with a positive attitude.
HDTV - If you are able to power your television, over the air TV signals are still available and may still be active in emergency situations. Purchasing an HDTV antenna and scanning channels on your TV may provide access to emergency information and entertainment.
Portable Radio - A solar/crank powered radio with weather band can keep you informed of atmospheric conditions and provide music and news.
Emergency Entertainment Kit
What do you do with the kids when:
◦ the power goes out?
◦ you're stuck at the airport?
◦ you're stranded in your car during a snowstorm?
◦ you've been evacuated to a temporary shelter due to a natural disaster?
◦ for whatever reason, your kids are without their usual toys and diversions?
If you're not prepared, children will likely find their own creative ways to occupy their time - whining about how bored they are, harassing siblings, or tearing up whatever is nearby.
With a bit of advance preparation and some simple toys, you can create an emergency entertainment kit that makes downtime pass quickly and gives kids something creative and stimulating to do.
Things to Pack
Here are some inexpensive, easy-to-find items to put in an emergency entertainment kit.
1. a deck of playing cards
2. a small guide to card games and rules of play
3. a handkerchief to use as a blindfold, a flag, a blanket, a headband, etc.
4. sidewalk chalk
5. a couple of ping-pong balls for playing catch, blowing races, spoon races, table soccer, etc.
6. a notepad and pens, pencils, crayons, or washable markers
7. a jump rope
8. a bag of balloons for playing catch, Keep It Up, etc.
9. a tape measure for marking off playing areas, measuring things in the room, etc.
11. a yo-yo
13. a Frisbee or Nerf ball
14. nail polish, cotton balls, barrettes, clips, comb and brush for playing salon
15. comfort items, like small stuffed animals
16. paper cups for tossing games, stacking contests, relay races, etc.
17. paper plates to draw on, for flying discs, masks, etc.
18. straws for blowing relays, pick-up sticks, etc.
19. a book of read-aloud stories
20. small packages of nonperishable snacks
Keep your entertainment kit in a waterproof bag or backpack near other emergency supplies. Add some to your car emergency kit or a carry-on bag - just in case.
Include a list of games that need no equipment at all.
2. Simon Says
3. Scavenger Hunt
4. Twenty Questions
5. I Spy
7. Duck, Duck, Goose
8. Red Light, Green Light
9. Blind Man's Bluff
10. Follow the Leader
12. Kim's Game - Have fun while improving personal observation (situational awareness) skills
Other Group Games
Here are some other activities that require little or no equipment and can keep kids - or whole families - busy for hours.
1. playing school or office
2. putting on a play
3. putting on a talent show
4. having a sing-along
5. telling a chain story
6. taking a walk
Why Play Is Important
Along with keeping children constructively occupied, an emergency entertainment kit can help kids in other ways:
◦ Sports and large-motor activities have been proven to be an effective form of trauma therapy and stress relief.
◦ Structured activities provide a sense of comfort and security to children whose regular lives have been turned upside-down.
◦ Interacting with parents and siblings in a new pastime can bring families closer together and open up new lines of communication, which is especially important when a family is under stress.