Thursday, May 28, 2009

Storm Preparedness for Families with Children

As Floridians enter into hurricane season it’s important to remember that children probably will need special care and attention during this time. Children’s fears can stem from their busy imaginations, and adults should take their feelings seriously.

When talking to your child, be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable. Be aware that after a disaster, children most fear that:

  • They will be separated from family, and they will be left alone;
  • The event will happen again; or
  • Someone will be injured or killed.

Assemble a kit for your child, including:

  • A few favorite books, crayons and paper
  • Puzzles, a board game, deck of cards
  • Two favorite small toys, such as a doll or action figure, a stuffed animal
  • Favorite blanket, pillow
  • Pictures of family and pets
  • Other special items that will comfort children

Children’s immunizations should be up-to date to protect from vaccine-preventable diseases, including an unexpected outbreak during a disaster. Keep a copy of your children’s complete immunization histories in your disaster kit attached to the family emergency information. All family members should also record the date of their last tetanus-diphtheria shot in this record as well.

Communicating with children about disasters

Here, from the Pinellas County Health Department, are some tips on communicating with children and adolescents during an emergency situation:

  • Remember that your words and actions can provide reassurance to a child who feels afraid.
  • Assure your children that the family is safe. Make sure children know that the family circle is strong.
  • Share your family disaster plan, so that children know that you’ve taken steps to ensure their safety.
  • Discussion is critical. Adults need to help children understand the emergency or disaster. More information is available at www.aap.org.

For more information, please contact your pediatrician, health care provider, local county health department or visit www.doh.state.fl.us or www.FloridaDisaster.org. The Florida Emergency Information Line: 1-800-342-3557

The mission of the Pinellas County Health Department is to promote, protect and improve the health and safety of our community through public and private partnerships in an environment that respects diversity. www.PinellasHealth.com