|Disasters & Children|
||Children depend on daily routines which may be disrupted in a disaster. Children will also depend on adults for protection, reassurance, and guidance. Their vivid imaginations will feed into their fears. Food and water shortages will affect them disproportionately when compared to adults. During and after a disaster event, children are afraid that:
Nightmares become more common in children experiencing a disaster, and normal sleep patterns will be disrupted. Many children deal with these events by reenacting them in their play.
- The event will occur again
- Someone close to them will be injured or killed
- They will be separated from their family
- They will be left alone
- They will be hurt or experience pain
- They somehow caused any damage, injury, or loss that occurred to the family
Best Practices for Children in Disasters:
- Teach children the importance of wearing shoes when debris is present, avoiding electrical lines, and flooded areas.
- Prepare a disaster kit for children including a few of their favorite items – stuffed toy, playing cards, games, coloring books, etc.
- Provide each young child with ID bracelets or necklaces with vital information including any critical medical needs.
- Have extra medication on hand for children with asthma, diabetes, or other chronic diseases.
- Teach school-age children basic first aid – cleaning of wounds, basic dressing techniques
- Teach children to recognize danger signs – smoke detector alarms, fire alarms, avoiding downed power lines, staying away from stray animals, and to recognize local community warning systems.
- Teach children how and when to call for help. In disasters 911 may not be available, and cell phones may not work. Teach children that this is to be expected and not to panic. Have agreed upon family assembly locations, both close to the home and on the perimeter of the neighborhood.
- Have children memorize their home phone number, parents’ names, and home address.
- Keep the family unit together as much as possible.
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