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Children & Disasters

Children experience trauma and fear during a natural disaster.

If they know what to do during a disaster because they have practiced family disaster drills, they will be better off. When parents are calm, children calm down more quickly.

Before a disaster, parents can:

  • Familiarize yourself with the emergency response plans of schools and/or daycare your children attend.
  • Find out if the school/daycare will keep your kids or send them home in an emergency.
  • Decide if your child gets into your home if you are not there.
  • Decide if your children take care of themselves or if a neighbor takes care of them.
  • Develop and practice a family disaster plan.
  • Teach children how to recognize danger signals.
  • Explain how to call for help (911).
  • Help children memorize important family information.
  • Help children memorize their street address, not the PO Box.
  • Include children's toys and special foods in 72-HOUR KIT.

After a disaster, children are most afraid the disaster will happen again, someone will be hurt or killed, or they will be separated from family and left alone.

Parents can help minimize their children's fears by:

  • Keeping the family together; do not leave children with relatives or friends - take your children with you.
  • Calmly and firmly explain the situation and your plans.
  • Talk to your children at eye level.
  • Encourage children to talk about the disaster and ask questions.
  • Include children in recovery activities by giving them chores that will help them feel they are helping things get back to normal.
  • Reassure children with firmness and love.
  • Sympathize with and resolve their anxieties.
  • Hold your children and spend more time with them.

Other Resources for Children: