Local & Regional News
9:02 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Arkansas Red Cross: New School Year Means Parents Should Update Emergency Contacts

As students head back to school in central Arkansas, Red Cross officials in the state are reminding parents and guardians to update all emergency contact information.

Brigette Williams with the Arkansas Red Cross says families must have a plan of action so that children and teachers know what to do if there is an urgent situation in the middle of the school day.

“One of the most important things that parents can do is to make sure they have accurate emergency contact lists at the school,” said Williams. “This will ensure schools know who to call whether your child has a bad tummy ache and needs to see a doctor to  more serious issues.”

Williams says children and school administrators need to know what a parent expects if a crisis happens during school hours.

“Unfortunately, we live in an age where schools are put on lockdown because of events that happen outside of the school. We’ve had weather issues where schools had to be released early and we’ve had a series of tornadoes where schools were on lockdown and parents were asked not to come to the school and pick up kids,” Williams said. “Depending on where you are, the school needs to get in touch with you and most schools now are using automatic calling so they need the right information.”

Red Cross officials advise parents or guardians to have current and accurate phone numbers registered with the school and they say you should include contact information for another person who has authorization to act on your behalf if you cannot be reached by phone or text.

Williams says the Red Cross also has several cell phone apps that can give parents and their children up-to-date information on tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and first aide sites.

The smart phone apps allow you to personalize an "emergency family plan" with necessary contacts and locations so your loved ones know the steps they can take in the event of a disaster.