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Disaster Planning: Infant and Child Feeding

Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and tornadoes, can make it hard for parents and caregivers to feed their infants and young children safely. Follow these tips to feed your child safely when disaster strikes.

For Parents and Caregivers

In the event of a natural disaster, be prepared for challenges, which may include power outages, unhealthy living spaces, and unsafe water. Always check with local authorities on the status of the drinking water and follow boil water advisories. The following tips provide specific information for how to feed your young child safely during an emergency.

Extreme Weather Preparedness

Every minute counts during a disaster – plan now so you’re prepared. Know the risks related to weather events that could affect you and your family where you live, work, and go to school. Use these resources from USAGov to set a family disaster plan, and sign up for weather or emergency alerts.

Talking to Children About Tragedies & Other News Events: What Parents Can Do

​​After any disaster, parents and other adults struggle with what they should say and share with children and what not to say or share with them.

If your child attends a Winter Park Consortium school, their CHILL counselor can help them process their feelings after a tragedy.

For tips on how to talk with your children at home, visit one of these trusted sites (links take you directly to their parent tips to talking with children about disasters and tragedies).

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Psychological Association

National Institute of Mental Health

Hurricane Irma Resources-Spanish/Creole/English

Thank you to our partners at Nemours Children’s Health System  for sharing this information with us.

Helping Your Child After a Natural Disaster

This three-page booklet educates parents and caregivers about how to help a child after a natural disaster. It discusses ways adults can provide support for children, and help then feel safe and secure, such as sticking to daily routines, being a good listener, understanding the child’s behavior, helping the child express their thoughts and feelings, and connecting with community support.

Health Risks After a Flood: Tips on How to Protect Your Family

This three-page fact sheet educates people about health risks after a storm. It outlines prevention of food-borne disease, water-borne illness, heat exhaustion and carbon monoxide poisoning, fire hazards, and mosquito-borne illness. It discusses post-flood clean up, clearing standing water, and eliminating mosquito breeding sites. Links for more information are provided.

Precautions for Food Safety

This one-page fact sheet educates people about food safety in an emergency such as a hurricane. Risk of food poisoning is high when refrigerators and ovens are inoperable during an electrical outage. The document lists safe food handling practices to prevent food-borne illness. Links and telephone numbers for food safety and emergency information are provided.

Frequently Asked Questions: Boil Water Advisories

This two-page fact sheet educates people about boil water advisories. It identifies boiling water as the best method to kill harmful bacteria and parasites in contaminated water. It discusses correct techniques for handwashing, washing dishes and clothes, bathing and shaving, washing fruits and vegetables, and making ice. It identifies infectious organisms in contaminated water, and advises when to seek medical attention if untreated water is consumed.

Mold in Water-Damaged Buildings

This one-page fact sheet educates people about how to protect against health risks associated with mold after flooding or hurricane. It provides a list of safety precautions to avoid indoor air quality problems after a storm. Florida Department of Health contact information is provided.

Talking to Kids About Hurricane Matthew

Tips from the Child Guidance Center to help you talk with your children about Hurricane Matthew.

  1. Consider your own emotions about the hurricane before you talk to your kids. As adults, we can’t help kids cope with their feelings unless we have dealt with ours first. Kids look to adults to help them understand the meaning of the storm and the damage that occurred. We need to have our own emotions in check so we can be available to help our kids cope.
  2. Remember the importance of talking and listening when initiating a discussion about the hurricane.  Ask your kids what they think about the storm and ask open ended questions. “Tell me what you think about the storm. What have you talked about in school? How do you think people handled the storm and the power being out for so long? Tell me about some of the things that happened to your friends.”
  3. Timing is important. Talking during the day is usually better then talking at night. Most kids are more tired at the end of the day and have less energy to cope with heavy topics.
  4. Recognize that kids may need help putting their feelings into words. Kids may have difficulty expressing their feelings, and we can help by giving their feelings a voice. “What I hear you saying is that you are still confused and scared about the storm and you worry it may come back. Sometimes we have more than one feeling about something like this. Let’s try to figure this out.”
  5. Reassure kids about their personal safety. Some kids will have lingering fears about their safety. Let them know there are procedures in place to ensure all of our safety concerning the weather. Let them know there are experts who watch the weather, let us know if dangerous weather is coming, and there are safe places to be if needed. Reassure them that there are officials whose job it is to keep us all safe, such as police officers and fire rescue personnel.
  6. Monitor television viewing. Many networks will be showing footage of damaged areas or advertising the weather news teams.  Reassure them that what they are seeing on television happened last week, (or month), and is not happening all over again.
  7. Remember the positives. Help yourself and your kids remember that, most importantly, people are safe. Whatever damage you suffered, help your kids remember it could have been worse. Help them see that buildings can be repaired, power can be restored, but our loved ones are what is most important.
  8. Plan for a period of adjustment. It is normal for kids to show signs of trauma such as crying, clinginess, irritability, poor sleeping and eating, excessive focus or denial of the storm. Typically these behaviors resolve themselves over a few weeks. Be sure to make time to spend some extra attention on your kids to help ease the adjustment.
  9. If you are concerned about your child, talk with a CHILL counselor. Some kids may still be having a hard time adjusting even after a few weeks. If your child seems to be having prolonged difficulty, consider consulting with the CHILL counselor at your child’s school to help your child resolve their feelings.
  10. Remember hugs and support help everyone feel better.