With this year's hurricane season approaching, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration continues to provide details on active weather alerts and national weather forecast maps. To protect children, dangerous situations related to extreme temperatures, must be monitored. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer strategies on preparing for and responding to tornadoes.
Those affected by or recovering from a hurricane or storm can Apply for Assistance, search for a Disaster Recovery Center, or locate information regarding power outages.
Shelter and Other Temporary Care Situations
If you or someone you know is looking for a friend or relative who may have been displaced by storms, visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well page. Shelter information is also available through the American Red Cross Web site.
When emergency sheltering or relocating is required, children will need protection from hazards, direct supervision, and assistance with feeding and personal hygiene tasks. Consider the following suggestions for shelter and temporary care:
Protect Children During Natural Disasters
- Staff and volunteers who help in shelters should receive training and resources regarding the care and needs of children. Standards and Indicators for Disaster Shelter Care for Children provides guidance to shelter managers and staff that ensures children have a safe, secure environment during and after a disaster. Emergency shelter staff and volunteers may also refer to the Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect in Disaster Emergency Shelters curriculum.
- When children are cared for in shelters or other temporary care situations, child-specific supplies must be provided, including safety-approved cribs, children's clothing of various sizes, formula and bottles, water, baby food, feeding utensils, etc. Refer to Supplies for Infants and Toddlers in Mass Care Shelters and Emergency Congregate Care Facilities for more information.
- Feeding plans should stress the special needs of infants and young children for breast milk, formula, and baby food. Plans must describe how clean water, bottles, and other necessary feeding equipment will be provided.
- It is important to develop potential activity plans tailored to children of different ages. Consider keeping age-appropriate toys and books on hand. For older children, a list of activity ideas, responsibilities, and job tasks may be helpful.
Children have ongoing needs that must be addressed in a disaster. Protecting children becomes even more challenging when temperatures become extreme.
- Children receive more appropriate and more effective care when they are accompanied by a parent or other caregiver. If transportation is necessary, children must be transported with at least one parent or caregiver.
- When children are separated from their caregivers (whether because of displacement or medical evacuation), they require priority assistance.
- When children are exposed to situations that are traumatic they may have difficulty understanding or may develop a range of stress-related symptoms. Adults may need to take steps to promote adjustment and help children cope.
- Child care programs and schools must have plans to keep students safe, notify parents if sheltering in place or emergency evacuation is required during school hours, and reunite children with their families.
- Talking to children before an emergency or disaster helps them to be prepared and develop strategies for coping with emergencies and everyday life.
Adults involved in clean-up efforts should consider how children might be impacted. Potential issues include habitability and the contamination of food and drinking water. Schools and play areas will also need to be cleaned and disinfected before children are allowed to return. See Flood Recovery
for more information.Family Preparedness and Disaster Planning
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that families develop a written disaster plan and that parents discuss these plans with their children. See HealthyChildren.org
for more information. Also see Let's Get Ready!: Planning Together for Emergencies
and FEMA for Kids
For more information about the AAP Disaster Preparedness Initiatives, please e-mail DisasterReady@aap.org