“Training proves to be the key ingredient to handling any disaster.” – Walter Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa, 2003 Virginia Emergency Management Symposium.
It’s no secret that spring storm season is quickly approaching. A few weeks ago I wrote about getting prepared by Building a Kit. This is also a good time to talk to your kids about storm season and help them get prepared as well.
Disasters are scary-for kids and for adults. Talking about disasters before they happen and teaching kids basic preparedness skills can empower them to feel secure in times of crisis because they know what to do and understand that adults who care for them are working to keep them safe.
Help them build their own kit – Include a flashlight, bike helmet, juice box and crackers, a small toy or stuffed animal, crayons and paper, and books for them to take along if they need to take shelter. This will help them feel more in control and less likely to feel as scared.
Make sure to include this resource sheet provided FEMA to help kids be prepared with the information they need. https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/a260e5fb242216dc62ae380946806677/FEMA_plan_child_508_071513.pdf
Here are some tips for talking to kids about disasters.
Explain why. From the beginning of the discussion, activity, drill, etc. let children know what you are doing and why. Example, “Today we are having a fire/tornado drill, so we know what to do to be ready for emergencies.
Be Honest. Give children information that is clear, accurate and age appropriate. Don’t give in depth details or graphic examples that will confuse or disturb children.
Listen. One of the best ways to understand what kids already know and need to know about disasters is listening to them. Listen carefully to their discussions and answers. Let them express their feelings in a safe atmosphere.
Be Reassuring. Children can experience stress when they do not understand what they perceive to be a dangerous situation. Let them know that disasters are scary and it’s okay to be scared when thinking about disasters
Limit Graphic Images. Avoid using graphic images or videos that show destruction. During or following a disaster, limit children’s exposure to the news media that may scare or confuse them as they appear like the disaster is happening over and over again.
It’s Okay to Say, “I Don’t Know.” Children and parents may ask questions to which you may not know the answers. Please remain calm and don’t make up an answer. It’s okay to say you don’t know and then offer to find an answer for them or refer them to additional