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Caring for Children in a Disaster – Information for Parents and Caregivers

Disasters affect children differently than they do adults. Learn more about the unique needs of children during and after disasters. Just with all of the disasters in the United States alone, this issue is especially critical to help young ones cope.  The CDC has several great recommendations for the care of children at time of disaster.

Another organization, the Shenandoah Valley Project Impact, the Central Shenandoah Valley’s regional disaster preparedness and mitigation program developed a great set of children’s books both in English and Spanish to help families and their kids cope. You can download them here.

Disaster_Activity_Book_for_Kids_English

Disaster_Activity_Book_for_Kids_Spanish

  • Children’s bodies are different from adults’ bodies.
    • They are more likely to get sick or severely injured.
      • They breathe in more air per pound of body weight than adults do.
      • They have thinner skin, and more of it per pound of body weight (higher surface-to-mass ratio).
      • Fluid loss (e.g. dehydration, blood loss) can have a bigger effect on children because they have less fluid in their bodies.
    • They are more likely to lose too much body heat.
    • They spend more time outside and on the ground. They also put their hands in their mouths more often than adults do.
  • Children need help from adults in an emergency.
    • They don’t fully understand how to keep themselves safe.
      • Older children and adolescents may take their cues from others.
      • Young children may freeze, cry, or scream.
    • They may not be able to explain what hurts or bothers them.
    • They are more likely to get the care they need when they have parents or other caregivers around.
    • Laws require an adult to make medical decisions for a child.
    • There is limited information on the ways some illnesses and medicines affect children. Sometimes adults will have to make decisions with the information they have.
  • Mental stress from a disaster can be harder on children.
    • They feel less of a sense of control.
    • They understand less about the situation.
    • They have fewer experiences bouncing back from hard situations.

https://www.cdc.gov/childrenindisasters/index.html

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