Tag Archives: resource

Talking With Kids About Natural Disasters


Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, fires…and the list goes on.  It’s easy for adults to ignore or underestimate the fear and misunderstanding that kids experience after a natural disaster.  We are often so concerned about our own feelings that we forget to provide answers and comfort to our children.

If you’re a parent, it’s likely you’ve pondered these questions:

  1. Should I wait until my kids ask?
    No.  Discuss the disaster openly with your child.  Encourage them to ask questions, and answer those questions directly.  Not talking about it makes the event even more threatening to your kids.  Silence suggests that what has happened is too horrible to even speak of.  Chances are they have already heard about it.
  2. Should my kids watch media covering the event?
    Maybe.  Research has shown that watching media coverage of disasters can create stress for children.  Parents should limit the viewing and watch with their children in order to deal with their reactions.   Reassure them that chances of a similar disaster occurring in their area are slim and correct any misinformation.
  3. Should I share my feelings and reactions?
    Yes.  Consider sharing your feelings about the crisis with your child.  This allows you to exemplify how to cope and plan for the future.  However, be sure you can express a positive or hopeful plan.
  4. How can I help my kids dispel their worry and shock?
    If possible, don’t disrupt normal routines.  Children find comfort in consistency.  If appropriate, consider volunteering for a community relief organization together.  Helping others brings peace and happiness.
Ideas gathered from Anita Gurian, Ph.D (NYU Child Study Center) and David Schonfeld, MD, Director, Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital).

FEMA Website on Your Cell Phone (Your Mobile Emergency Plan)

FEMA-logo-m.fema.govFEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recently launched m.fema.gov, a skinnier version of its disaster information Web site developed specifically for mobile cell phones. The site provides vital information about floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms and other emergencies and answers to key questions like “How do I keep my family safe?” and “How do I return home safely?”

Of course, a bigger question is how reliable are cell phones in the aftermath of a disaster? This varies based on the scale and location of the emergency, the data provider, and other factors. There is no guarantee your phone carrier will be available, but it helps to know this resource exists in the first place.

Below is the video from FEMA making the announcement:

FEMA plans to expand and improve the site to allow individuals to apply for federal disaster assistance, check their application status or update an existing application.

With hurricane season beginning June 1, FEMA also launched a hurricane page at m.fema.gov/hurricanes.htm. It offers helpful ideas on how to prepare for a hurricane, how to stay safe during a hurricane, and how to recover in the aftermath of a hurricane.

Survival Away From Home: Your Car

car-blizzard-storm-survivalEmergencies, disasters, and accidents happen when you least expect them.   This is no surprise to most of us.  But what may surprise you is that the average American spends more than two hours per day in the car.  That equates to more than 10% of your daily schedule.  If you commute to work, shuttle kids around all day, or work in a field that requires frequent travel, you are likely spending even more time behind the wheel.

Below are ten items (in no particular order) you should have in your car at all times to be prepared:

  1. water (or water filtration bottle)
  2. food
  3. blanket (or survival sleeping bag)
  4. flashlight
  5. radio (hand-crank radio if possible)
  6. cash (small bills)
  7. waterproof matches (or lighter)
  8. distress signal (whistle or signal mirror)
  9. walking shoes
  10. first-aid kit

Disaster Declarations (coming to a county near you)

FEMA_logoDon’t misunderstand me.  I’m not a pessimist and I don’t foretell the future.  I was simply surprised to see the frequency of Major Disaster Declarations in the U.S. in 2009 as recorded by FEMA.  The list is mostly populated with severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding.  But it also includes fires, mudslides, and even ice jams in Alaska.

FEMA has supplied a fascinating map of the United States, showing all the presidential disaster declarations from 1964-2007.  It shows you the counties that have experienced the most disaster declarations and even breaks down the disasters by type for each of the 10 disaster regions.


This map might make you think twice about where you live.  But hopefully it encourages us all to be a little more prepared for when that next disaster strikes.