Arizona lacking in disaster preparedness plans to keep kids safe

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- When it comes to keeping your kids safe during a major disaster, nearly half the states in the country, including Arizona, would not be ready. That's the finding of a new study done by Save the Children.

The report is titled "What Are You Waiting For?" It focuses on the threats to children from natural disasters and school shootings. More than half of the families polled said they've already been affected by one of those emergencies since their kids began child care or school.

It also found that only 29 states have basic emergency plans in place for all schools, despite 69 percent of parents assuming their child's school has an appropriate plan in place.

"This report is a wake-up call," said Kathy Spangler, Save the Children's vice president of U.S. programs. "American parents say they're concerned about risks their children face from school shootings and natural disaster. Yet, our poll also shows most parents know little about emergency plans at their child's school or child care, and that they are failing to take basic actions to protect kids at home."

Individual states were graded using four different criteria: 

- A plan for evacuating children in child care.

- A plan for reuniting families after a disaster.

- A plan for children with disabilities and those with access and functional needs.

- A multi-hazard plan for all K-12 schools.

So how did Arizona measure up? Our state just met one of those four standards:the multi-hazard plan for all K-12 schools. That means the schools would be ready for three types of emergencies. But work still needs to be done.

"Every workday, 68 million children are separated from their parents," Carolyn Miles, Save the Children's president and CEO, said in a statement with the group's annual disaster report card. "We owe it to these children to protect them before the next disaster strikes."