Don’t be reluctant to talk with your family about the possibility of a hurricane, fire, tornado, or flood. Thought and action before the disaster hits usually helps family members react wisely. Families that work together to prepare for the problem will cope better than those who do not take precautions. Consider how your children might react in a disaster, how you might react, and how the crisis could affect each person’s emotional and physical well-being. Plan in advance for how to deal with a crisis situation.
- Make emergency plans as outlined by the Civil Service, Red Cross, or other disaster team.
- Discuss and practice these plans with your family before a disaster strikes.
- Work together to help your children or other dependents understand the procedures. These steps will allow each family member to think through a potential crisis situation without the tension of a real emergency.
- Give children exact steps to follow. Talking, practicing, and actively preparing together will help children understand strange occurrences like a hurricane.
- Help children practice dialing 911 or other emergency numbers.
- Read news stories of family or community problems and emergencies. Talk about how your family would handle the situation. This gives your children the time to think through and plan actions for real life crises.
- Play “let’s pretend” with preschoolers. Discuss a situation that might arise in your area and then ask, “What would you do?”
- Provide basic supplies for a variety of possible situations. Stock a box with games, books, and hobby materials for sitting out emergencies. Make sure emergency supplies of food, diapers, and drinks are available, as recommended by disaster teams.
Involve children in preparing for and carrying out emergency plans. All children need and want to carry out important roles. This helps them feel a part of the family and prepares them to cope with later situations.
- If you have older or disabled relatives living at home, review emergency procedures with them.
- If special transportation or assistance is necessary in an emergency, arrange this in advance.
- If a relative lives in a nursing home, discuss evacuation procedures with the staff and make needed plans.
For more information on disaster preparedness and recovery visit the NC Disaster Information Center.
Adapted by Dr. Karen DeBord, Extension Child Development Specialist, NC State Extension, from Stress and Coping with Disaster by Karen DeBord, Marty Baker, Ami O’Neill, University of Missouri.
Publication date: May 23, 2014
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