How to Talk to Your Family About Natural Disasters
It's a normal part of parenting to talk with your children about stranger danger, how to respond to a fire, or what to do if someone is in trouble or hurt. And it's a natural part of parenting on the west coast to talk with your children about earthquakes, forest fires and other natural disasters.
The truth is, these things happen here and it's important that families are prepared; which includes having discussions that increase awareness and preparedness.
One of the most difficult parts of experiencing a natural disaster is talking with your children, after the disaster strikes. Once they've seen the effects, and after the neighborhoods they've played in or shopping malls they've visited have been affected, they may feel uncertain or unstable.
We know talking to your children about the aftermath of a disaster is difficult, so we want to provide some guidance to help you communicate and restore their feelings of safety and stability.
When we experience difficult situations, it can be devastating, but we get to see a different side of our community. Take this time to explain to your children that there are great people in this world, and there are people they've never met who care about their safety and survival. Talk to them about the organizations that are in place specifically to help others get through difficult times.
Organizations like FEMA, The Red Cross, Mercy Corps, and Habitat for Humanity are specifically designed to help communities who've been struck by a disaster rebuild and get back on their feet. Learn about more organizations, here.
Even though there is a lot of work to do to overcome the impacts of an earthquake or forest fire, there are a lot of people who donate their time, money, and resources to help out. You, your family and your community are not alone in this.
Learn From the Past
Many communities have experienced disasters before, and they've been able to overcome the difficult times and rebuild. Tell your child about these communities, talk to them about the Loma Prieta Earthquake. This earthquake caused major damage and affected thousands upon thousands of people, but the city survived, and rebuilt, and thrived.
Success stories can help you and your family look beyond the immediate fear and concern. Knowing that people have experienced these disasters and they've been able to recover, is comforting. Your children will learn that the world does not have to stop, we can all commit to moving forward and taking the right steps to get back to normal as quickly as possible.
Let your family know that while you're working through the impacts of a disaster, you have always had them, and their safety, in mind. You planned and prepared, so you can keep them as safe as possible while the authorities and organizations in place determine the right steps to recover and rebuild.
Reassuring your family that you have safety and survival under control will relieve some of their anxieties about what you will do in the meantime- as they are waiting for life to go back to normal.
Being prepared beforehand and being able to assure your family that you've taken steps to protect them, will alleviate some of the “next step” anxieties. Knowing that food, water, clothing, and warmth have been taken care of, shows your family that they're protected and they can rely on you to ensure some level of stability.
Experiencing a natural disaster can deeply affect any family's stability. Providing small amounts of certainty to your children can go a long way in helping them cope with the current state of their community.
We have a checklist to help you out. Preparation is very important to us at The Earthquake Bag. Not only because it helps you navigate the aftermath of a disaster, but because it provides you and your family with much needed peace of mind during difficult times.
- Skyler Hallgren