Helping Children Cope with Tragedy

It’s hard for grownups to make sense of a tragedy, so consider how difficult it must be for children.

Depending on their age and media exposure, children may know more than grownups think. And even if unaware, children still might sense tension and anxiety from adults around them.

Mental Health America has offered these ways that parents can help their children cope with tragedy-related anxiety:Dad comforting child

Quick tips for parents

  • Children need comforting and frequent reassurance of their safety.
  • Be honest and open about the tragedy or disaster.
  • Encourage children to express their feelings through talking, drawing or playing.
  • Try to maintain your daily routines as much as possible.

Preschool-aged children

  • Reassure young children that they’re safe. Provide extra comfort and contact by discussing the child’s fears at night, telephoning during the day, and providing extra physical comfort.
  • Get a better understanding of a child’s feelings about the tragedy. Discuss the events with them and find out their fears and concerns. Answer all questions they may ask and provide them loving comfort and care.
  • Structure children’s play so that it remains constructive, serving as an outlet for them to express fear or anger.

Grade school-aged children

  • Answer questions in clear and simple language.
  • False reassurance does not help this age group. Don’t say that tragedies will never happen again; children know this isn’t true. Instead, remind children that tragedies are rare, and say “You’re safe now, and I’ll always try to protect you,” or “Adults are working very hard to make things safe.”
  • Children’s fears often worsen around bedtime, so stay until the child falls asleep so he or she feels protected.
  • Monitor children’s media viewing. Images of the tragedy are extremely frightening to children, so consider limiting the amount of media coverage they see.
  • Allow children to express themselves through play or drawing, and then talk to them about it. This gives you the chance to “retell” the ending of the game or the story they have expressed in pictures with an emphasis on personal safety.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” Part of keeping discussion of the tragedy open and honest is not being afraid to say you don’t know how to answer a child’s question. When such an occasion arises, explain to your child that tragedies cause feelings that even adults have trouble dealing with. Temper this by explaining that adults will still always work hard to keep children safe and secure.

MomComfortGirl  Adolescents

  •  Adolescents may try to downplay their worries, so encourage them to work out their concerns about the tragedy.
  • Children with existing emotional problems such as depression may require careful supervision and additional support.
  • Monitor their media exposure to the event and information they receive on the Internet.
  • Adolescents may turn to their friends for support. Encourage friends and families to get together and discuss the event to allay fears.

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Wildfire Safety Tips Every Family Should Know

A red flag fire warning was issued today across Southern California including Riverside County mountains and San Diego County mountains, among other areas. The warning signaled strong winds and low humidity.

Each year, wildfires threaten people living near, or visiting, wildland areas. Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases, as well as fine particles from burning trees and other materials, which can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. Those at greatest risk from wildfire smoke include people who have heart or lung diseases, older adults, and children.

As the summer begins to heat up in Southern California, take a moment to check out these guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to decrease your family’s risk from wildfire smoke should you live in an affected area.

  • Check local air quality reports. Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke. Find out if your community provides reports about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI). In addition, pay attention to public health messages about taking safety measures.
  • Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. Burning candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution. Smoking also puts even more pollution into the air.
  • Prevent wildfires from starting. Build, maintain and extinguish campfires safely. Comply with local regulations if you plan to burn trash or debris. Check with your local fire department to be sure the weather is safe enough for burning.
  • Follow the advice of your doctor about medicines and about your respiratory management plan if you have asthma or another lung disease. Consider evacuating the area if you are having trouble breathing. Call for further advice if your symptoms worsen.
  • Evacuate from the path of wildfires. Listen to the news to learn about current evacuation orders. Follow the instructions of local officials about when and where to evacuate. Take only essential items with you.

For more tips, please visit the CDC website.

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Earthquake Preparedness Tips For Your Family

It’s Earthquake Preparedness Month. To help keep you and your family safe during an earthquake, check out these important guidelines. Be sure to talk to your kids about the importance of being prepared for this, and other emergency situations.

 Have a safety checklist to make sure you’re prepared:

• Become aware of fire evacuation and earthquake plans for all of the buildings you occupy regularly.

• Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.

• Practice drop, cover and hold on in each safe place. If you don’t have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.

• Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances, as well as bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture, to wall studs.

• Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit or sleep.

• Learn how to shut off gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.

• Keep an emergency supplies kit in an easy-to-access location. In addition, keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.

During an earthquake:

• Drop, cover and hold on.

• Stay away from windows to avoid being injured by shattered glass.

• Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. If you must leave the building after the shaking stops, use stairs rather than an elevator in case there are aftershocks, power outages or other damage.

• If you are outside when the shaking starts, find a clear spot and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops (away from buildings, power lines, trees, streetlights).

• If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Then, drive carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.

After an earthquake:

• After an earthquake, the disaster may continue. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami.

• Check yourself for injuries and get first aid, if necessary, before helping injured or trapped persons.

• Look quickly for damage in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.

• Listen to a portable, battery-operated or hand-crank radio for updated information and instructions.

• Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.

• Help people who require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or disabled.

• Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and stay out of damaged areas.

• Keep animals under your direct control.

• If you were away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.

For more information on emergency preparedness, visit www.redcross.org.

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CHOC Recommends Talking With Your Kids About Natural Disasters

As Japan continues to recover from an alarming, 9.0-magnitude earthquake last month, it faced yet another 7.1 aftershock today. While many adults in the U.S. may be wondering what the risks are to people here, children may also have their own concerns or fears.

CHOC Children’s recommends that you talk openly with your children about what they’ve heard and how they feel, and answer their questions honestly and in an age-appropriate manner. Assure them about their safety and let them know that your family and community have plans in place should a natural disaster like this ever happen.

In addition, teach your children easy tips for any emergency such as, how to call for help; when to use emergency numbers; who to contact if the family is separated; and where your disaster kit or supplies are stored.

For more tips recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, please click here:
http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/pages/Getting-Your-Family-Prepared-for-a-Disaster.aspx