Talking About Disaster: A Guide for Standard Messages
Table of Contents
Introduction and Purpose
What Is in This Guide
Using This Guide
Hazard Messages
Chemical Emergencies
Fires, Residential
Fires, Wildland
Floods and Flash Floods
Hazardous Materials Incidents
Heat (Heat Wave)
Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
Nuclear Power Plant Incidents
Thunderstorms, Severe
Winter Storms
Special Populations Messages
Talking to Children About Disasters
Preparedness Action Messages
Family Disaster Plan
Disaster Supplies Kit
Emergency Supplies for your Vehicle
First Aid Kit Contents
First Aid Kit for Pets
Stocking and Storing Food and Water
Smoke Alarms
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Fire Extinguishers
Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)
Home Fire Sprinkler Systems
Portable Generators
Evacuation, Sheltering, and Post-Disaster Safety Messages
Evacuation, Sheltering, and Post-Disaster Safety
What to do if Evacuation is Necessary Because of a Storm
What to do When There is Flooding
“Wind Safe” Room
How to Shelter-in-Place (Chemical Incidents)
Factors for Protection from Radioactive Fallout
Food and Water Safety During/Post Disaster
Emergency Sanitation
How to Recognize and Treat Heat Emergencies
Frostbite and Hypothermia

Talking to Children About Disasters

You should not worry that talking about disasters will make children fearful. On the contrary, children are usually more frightened by what is whispered or not mentioned aloud than by matter-of-fact discussion. Let children speak feely about what scares or puzzles them—for example, “What will happen to my puppy if we have to evacuate?” “If there’s a flood and I’m at school, I won’t be able to find you.” Try to answer questions and address concerns with concrete, easy-to-follow information.

When helping children learn how to prepare for, respond safely during, and recover from a disaster, it is important to adapt your discussions, instructions, and practice drills to their skills and abilities. Be aware that young children can easily confuse messages such as “drop, cover, and hold on” (response during an earthquake) and “stop, drop, and roll” (response if your clothes catch on fire).

Tell children that a disaster is something that happens that could hurt people, cause damage, or cut off utilities, such as water, telephones, or electricity. Explain to them that nature sometimes provides "too much of a good thing"—fire, rain, wind, snow. Talk about typical effects of disasters that children can relate to, such as loss of electricity, water, and telephone service.

Give examples of several disasters that could happen in your community. Help children recognize the warning signs for each. Discussing disaster ahead of time reduces fear and anxiety and lets everyone know how to respond.

Be prepared to answer children’s questions about scary things that they have heard about or seen on television, such as terrorist attacks. Give constructive information about how they can be prepared to protect themselves.

Teach children how and when to call for help. Teach them to call 9-1-1 or your local emergency telephone number. At home, post emergency telephone numbers by all phones and explain when to call each number. Include the work numbers and cell phone numbers of household members. Even very young children can be taught how and when to call for emergency assistance. If a child cannot read, make an emergency phone number chart with pictures or icons for 911, “daddy,” and “mommy” that may help the child identify the correct number to call.

Tell children that in a disaster there are many people who can help them. Talk about ways that an emergency manager, American Red Cross volunteer, police officer, firefighter, teacher, neighbor, doctor, or utility worker might help after a disaster. Teach children to call your out-of-town contact in case they are separated from the family and cannot reach family members in an emergency. Tell them, “If no one answers, leave a voice message if possible and then call the alternative contact.” Help them memorize the telephone numbers, and write them down on a card that they can keep with them.

Quiz your children every six months so they will remember where to meet, what phone numbers to call, and safety rules.

 Explain that when people know what to do and practice in advance, everyone is able to take care of themselves better in emergencies.

By including all members of your household—regardless of age—in disaster preparedness discussions, you will emphasize each person’s importance as a member of the safety team.

Initial development of this guide was made possible by a grant from the Home Safety Council, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping prevent the nearly 21 million medical visits
that occur on average each year from unintentional injuries in the home. Through national programs and partners across America, the Home Safety Council works to educate and empower families to take actions that help keep them safe in and around their homes. This guide is the product of the hard work and collaboration of many professionals affiliated with the organizations partnering with the American Red Cross, which represents the expertise and commitment of the following organizations:

American Geological InstituteDisability Preparedness CenterHome Safety CouncilThe Humane Society of the United StatesInstitute for Business & Home SafetyInternational Association of Emergency ManagersNational Fire Protection AssociationNational Interagency Fire CouncilNational SafeKids CampaignNational Science FoundationU.S. Consumer Product Safety CommissionU.S. Department of Agriculture -Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service -Extension Disaster Education Network -Food Safety and Inspection ServiceU.S. Department of Commerce - NOAA/National Weather ServiceU.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Food and Drug AdministrationU.S. Department of Homeland Security -Federal Emergency Management Agency -U.S. Fire AdministrationU.S. Department of Interior - U.S. Geological Survey
From: Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages. Washington, D.C., 2007.

Html Copyright The Disaster Center 2012

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