Animals Included in Emergency Disaster Plans More than Children, Report Shows

| by Denise A Justin

Emergency planning in Australia makes far more detailed provisions for managing animals than it does for the needs of children, Save the Children's chief executive officer Paul Ronalds said this week.

Don't leave me alone: Protecting Children in Australian Disasters and Emergencies, a new report, calls for children to be incorporated across all emergency management plans at all levels of government ahead of the upcoming emergency season, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Almost all emergency plans addressed animal management, but only briefly mentioned children, says the report.

Extensive fires in the past week have led to the loss of two lives and 209 homes, mainly in the Blue Mountains.

Emergency treatments for breathing problems have risen sharply due to the significant air pollution from bushfire smoke, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

NSW Health data showed the number of people treated for asthma in hospital more than doubled last Monday, when air quality was at its worst. Those with lung conditions were not able to breathe easily yet, with Sydney blanketed in smoke again on Sunday due to backburning, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

The report found there was no detailed planning focused on the unique needs of children in emergencies and disasters, meaning they could be overlooked.

"Children are extremely vulnerable in emergencies. They're more susceptible to heat and infectious diseases like influenza, and more sensitive to the effects of smoke, chemicals and biological emergencies. They're also more easily swept away in flood waters," Mr. Ronalds of Save the Children said.

The report, released yesterday, found that only 239 local governments out of 570 made their emergency management plans available online.

Of those, 15 per cent did not mention children, infants or young people, while the majority of others only made cursory mentions. Ninety-seven per cent planned for animals.

Sources: Daily Telegraph, SMH