Preparing Children for Disasters
September is National Preparedness Month and families with children are the most vulnerable during a disaster. Children have distinct healthcare requirements in regard to their anatomic, physiologic, developmental and psychological characteristics. For example, children are more sensitive to smoke inhalation, hypothermia and shock. In emergencies, children are more prone to shock due to smaller blood volumes and smaller fluid reserves. They are also more likely to sustain serious injuries with blood loss and trauma to the body as a result of their smaller size. As a result, it’s critical to have at least one person in your household that has basic lifesaving skills and CPR Training.
When preparing your house for potential disasters keep your little ones in mind. Here are a few helpful reminders:
- Talk to your children about the dangers of disasters that are likely in your area and how to prepare for each type.
- Make sure they know where to go in your home to stay safe.
- Teach them how to recognize danger signals. For example, smoke detectors, fire alarms- what do they sound like and what to do when you hear them.
- Additions for your emergency kit:
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, diapers, baby food)
- Games and activities for children
- A few of your child’s favorite books, crayons an paper
- Favorite small toys like dolls or action figures
- A board game, deck of cards or puzzles
- A picture of your family and pets
- Include medicines specifically for your children in the event of sickness or injury
- Turn off the TV or watch news coverage with them and talk about it afterwards.
- Keep your family together as much as possible. And calmly and firmly explaining the situation. For example, “tonight, we will all stay together in the shelter”. This will alleviate worry and avoid anxiety. .
- Encourage children to talk. Let them talk about the situation and ask them to describe their feelings. Help them learn to use words that express their feelings, such as happy, sad, angry, mad, and scared. Use drawing or painting as an activity to help them tell their story.
- Go back to your former routine as soon as possible.
Take the time this month to prepare your family! Communication and preparation, especially for smaller children, will alleviate additional stress in the event of a disaster. America’s PrepareAthon! Is scheduled for September 30th, people in all 50 states will come together to take actions around the hazards their communities could face with drills, conversations, and exercises in their schools, workplaces, houses of worship and organizations. To learn more you can go to Ready.gov/Prepare. Start preparing now!