Families which include young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of a disaster or traumatic event. Children depend on daily routines to make them feel safe and protected.
When a disaster occurs, the fear and anxiety that children experience is very real and may result in behaviors ranging from difficulty in sleeping to separation anxiety to aggression or withdrawal. Children may need extra support and love from their caregivers.
Since children imitate adult behavior, they may mirror a parent’s method of coping with an emergency. Maintaining a sense of control, being honest and as calm as possible will help to reduce the traumatic feelings that children may experience.
The American Academy of Pediatrics resources:
- Children and Disasters: Preparing for children’s needs.
Family Readiness Kit (PDF): Supplies for handling disasters.
Disaster Planning Materials for Child Care Providers – National Child Care Resource Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).
Special Sites for Children
Helping Children Cope
- Helping Children Cope with Disaster – information for parents on common physical and emotional reactions to trauma of children at different ages and suggestions as to how to help. FEMA
- Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event – general strategies for promoting mental health and resilience after a traumatic event. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- “How Parents Can Talk to Their Children About War” – Cornell University
- The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence – increasing the capacity of individuals and communities to reduce the incidence and impact of violence on children and families. Guides for parents and teachers for talking with children about war, terrorism and death.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resources
- New York State Federation of Search & Rescue Teams is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit organization of independent Search and Rescue teams that assists officials in searches for lost or missing persons in NYS or the Northeast.