Posts Tagged ‘earthquake’

Preparing your child for a natural disaster

Friday, May 29th, 2015

storm clouds, hurricaneNatural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, or hurricanes, can affect children differently than they do adults. Disasters cause an extreme amount of stress for anyone but children have unique needs. According to the CDC:

Children’s bodies are smaller and more vulnerable than an adult’s.
• Children are more likely to get sick or severely injured in a disaster.
• They breathe in more air per pound of body weight than adults do and therefore will breathe in more toxins or debris.
• They have thinner skin that is more easily hurt.
• Since children have less fluid in their bodies, fluid loss (such as dehydration or blood loss) will have a more significant effect on their health.
• They are more likely to lose body heat.

In an emergency, children need help from adults.
• Children may not know how to react, so older children may look to adults for cues. Younger children may scream or cry.
• Some children may not be able to explain where or how they are hurt.
• Children cannot make medical decisions for themselves and will need an adult to get medical treatment.

Disasters can be more stressful for children.
• Children may feel out of control.
• They do not understand the situation.
• They have less practice recovering from difficult experiences.

If you have young children, one of the most important things that you can do to keep your family safe in a disaster is to make a plan.  Planning for a disaster means knowing what to do in each possible situation.

Prepare: Before creating your disaster plan, it’s important to know what types of emergencies are likely in your area and the best way to respond. Different events may require different strategies. You can find more information about tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes on our website. If you are pregnant or have a young infant, these factsheets will help you understand your unique needs and prepare for an unexpected event.

Talk: Spend time with your family discussing natural events that may occur in your area. Use simple words that even very young children can understand.

Practice: Practice your family evacuation plan so that during an emergency you can leave quickly and safely. Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster. For example, during an earthquake you would want to practice “drop, cover, and hold on” under a sturdy desk or table. During a tornado, you would want to seek shelter in a lower level room without windows.

Respond: Stay as calm as you can, since your reaction is likely to influence how your child responds. If you need to go to a shelter, bring any medications you or your children need. Also, bring small toys that will make them feel at home.

Recover: If appropriate, let children help in clean-up and recovery efforts. This can help to increase their sense of control. Try to get back into normal routines as soon as you can. has a lot of information that can help you make an emergency preparedness plan. And if you have a baby or child with special needs, make sure you read our post Preparing for disasters when you have a child with special needs.

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Staying safe in a disaster

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Our thoughts and concerns today are with all those facing the ravages of the earthquake in Japan and the tsunami in the Pacific. We hope you and your family are safe. In this very difficult time, it is important to focus on the unique needs of pregnant women and women with newborns. Having an action plan can help.

You need to follow any evacuation and preparation instructions given by your state, but here are some special things to consider. If you need to evacuate your area because of a disaster emergency:
• Bring any medications you are currently taking, including your prenatal vitamins and your prescriptions.
• Keep a copy of your prenatal medical records with you and contact information for your health care provider in case you need to visit another provider.
• If you are driving, stop to get out and walk every 1 to 2 hours. Keep blankets in your car.
• Wear comfortable shoes – you may be on your feet a lot.
• Pack some snacks and bottled water.
• Pack pacifiers, diapers, blankets, extra clothes for your baby
Remember that maternity clothes may not be available if you evacuate. Pack extra clothes for yourself, including undergarments.

Once you’ve made it through a disaster emergency and are safe, you’ll want to take steps to ensure you stay healthy. For example, if your health care provider’s office is closed or if you had to evacuate, call a local hospital or health department to get information about prenatal care and local hospitals.

Breastmilk is the best food for a baby during the first year of life. In emergencies, it’s usually best for the baby if the mother can continue to breastfeed. If pre-prepared formula is unavailable or water supplies are unsafe, breastfeeding is especially wise. Breastmilk can be especially good for premature babies.

If breastfeeding is not possible, have a supply of single-serving, ready-to-feed formula. Ready-to-feed formula does not need mixing, and water should not be added to it. When using ready-to-feed formula, pour the needed amount into a bottle, and throw away the formula that the baby does not drink if you cannot refrigerate it. After it is opened, the formula must be refrigerated.

This link will take you to information about: finding ways to eat healthy, finding safe water for drinking, cooking and bathing; watching for signs of preterm labor if you are pregnant; finding ways to get some physical relief when you can; ways of coping with stress, and more.

Remember, flood water may contain harmful substances. For instance, the water may contain bacteria that could cause serious disease. It’s best if children and pregnant women avoid touching or walking in flood water.

If you are pregnant, be especially careful not to swallow any flood water. Try to keep it away from your mouth. If you feel sick in any way, talk to a doctor or nurse right away. Remember to tell them that you are pregnant.

Stay safe and be well.