Mt Hood Emergency Expo 2014 is coming!!!

Friday May 2nd 11:30 am to 7:00 pm
Saturday May 4th, 9:30 am to 6:00 pm

This FREE expo will have over 60 speakers and displays to help you BE PREPARED. Won't you join us?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


 Recommended Websites
Food Storage Made Easy http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/ babysteps/step-3-three-months-of-normal-food/

Jodi and Julie show us how to be prepared with all aspects of home storage, including getting our three month supply in order.
Follow this link http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/fsme/docs/

3monthfoodsupply-new.xls to a downloadable Excel spreadsheet that has what you will need to get organized. They also provide a menu planner here http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/fsme/docs/3monthfoodsupply.pdf

This site is well worth your time.
Prepared LDS Family http://www.preparedldsfamily.blogspot.com/p/free-printables.html

A link to the printables page of Valerie’s Blog. Valerie has an easy to follow system for getting your food storage together in one year. This is easily adapted to the 3-Month plan. She also has a great handout “A suggested 3-month Food Storage Plan”. It has all the basics you might need with the amounts for one adult.
Food Storage Lady http://www.foodstoragelady.blogspot.com/

Look at the post for SATURDAY, APRIL 26, 2008 Building a three month supply of food: stocking your pantry for some ways to begin planning.
Real Life Food Storage http://www.reallifefoodstorage.com/

 Eat Better For Less, Every Day. This site has wonderful practical food storage recipes.  Every Day Food Storage http://www.everydayfoodstorage.net/

Crystal is a personal food storage trainer. Her site has many downloads http://everydayfoodstorage.net/download-handouts
 (including the three-month supply list, that I personally like) and several how to videos that cover a wide variety of food storage topics. http://everydayfoodstorage.net/videos that are worth watching!

PG Utah Stake website http://pgward.org/ep/
This site has a ton of information about all things preparedness and several great posts about all aspects of your 3-month supply.
The Food Storage Shopper http://thefoodstorageshopper.net/training-shopping/3-month-food-supply/  has put together a how to article that is a great place to start.
Provident Living https://www.lds.org/family/family-well-being/home-storage?lang=eng The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints official site for all things preparedness!

3 Month  Supply...      How?
. Make a list of meals your family normally eats
. Determine how much you go through in three months
. Use foods from your pantry daily
. Replace what you have used—rotate your items
. Budget some money—figure out what you can spare and
think of it as an investment.
. Give it time and thought—Develop a Plan
Shop grocery sales
Bulk buy
Buy one extra
Use coupons
Buy on sale items
. Go to http://mounthoodmormonnews.blogspot.com for links
to helpful websites and search the internet.


A well-stocked three-month pantry allows you to cook and enjoy most recipes without running to the store!
For more tips and tricks for using food storage everyday,
visit www.everydayfoodstorage.NET

Baking Ingredients
Baking chips (butterscotch, milk chocolate,
semisweet, white, etc.)
Baking chocolate squares (semisweet, unsweetened)
Baking powder
Baking soda
Corn meal
Corn syrup
Cream of tartar
Extracts (almond, maple, mint, vanilla)
Flour (all-purpose, bread, etc)
Food coloring
Gelatin (flavored, plain)
Milk (evaporated, sweetened condensed)
Nonstick cooking spray
Nuts (almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts)
Oil (olive, vegetable)
Pie filling
Salt and Pepper
Spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, etc.)
Sugar (brown, confectioners’, granulated)
Tapioca, quick-cooking
Baking Mixes
Corn bread
Frosting, canned
Pudding, instant
Quick bread
Canned or Bottled Foods
Beans (black, great northern, kidney, pinto,
Broth (beef, chicken)
Fruits (fruit cocktail, mandarin oranges,
peaches, pears, pineapple, etc.)
Green chilies
Jam and Jelly
Meats (beef, chicken, ham, etc.)
Peanut butter
Prepared entrées (chile, ravioli, spaghetti,
soups, stews, etc.)
Sauces (Alfredo, cheese, picante, spaghetti,
Soups, condensed (chicken, mushroom,
celer y, etc.)
Tomatoes (diced, paste, sauce, stewed)
Vegetables (Corn, green beans, peas)
Dried Fruits and Veggies
Peppers (bell, hot, etc.)
Bouillon granules (beef, chicken)
Browning and seasoning sauce
Hot pepper sauce
Onion soup mix
Seasoned salt
Soy sauce
Taco seasoning
Vinegar (balsamic, cider, red wine, white,
Worcestershire sauce
Bread (pita, sandwich)
Bread crumbs, dry
Crackers (graham, soda, etc.)
Noodle mixes
Pasta (noodles, macaroni, penne, spaghetti,
Rice, instant
Rice mixes
Stuffing mix
Storage, Long-Term*
Dried beans (black, kidney, navy, pinto)
Nonfat dry milk powder
Oats (regular, Instant)
Potato (flakes, Pearls)
Rice (instant, long grain etc.)
Wheat (red or white)
Egg powder

*Long-term storage items: In addition to the LDS cannery, where you can your own items; some items can be bought
pre-canned from www.ldscatalog.com and shipped to you. The website also offers a great long-term storage Starter
Kit of six #10 Cans—2 red wheat, 2 white rice, 1 pinto beans, and 1 quick oats.
When you buy, consider buying two—one to use and one to store. The best grocery sales come before holidays.
Save money toward these sales. This list will help you decide what items to stock; modify it to suit your family.


THREE MONTH SUPPLY - Recommended Reading

The Ball Blue Book, guide to preserving. Hearthmark, Inc 2009  

Chioffi, Nancy. Keeping the Harvest: preserving your fruits, vegetables & herbs. Pownal, VT, Storey Communications, Inc, 1994

Costenbader, Carol.  The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest. North Adams, MA, Storey Publications, Inc. 2002  

Eliason, Karine.  Make-A-Mix, 306 Recipes to Save Time and Money. Boulder, CO, Fisher Books, 1995

Emery, Carla. The Encyclopedia of Country Living, an Old Fashioned Recipe Book. Seattle, WA, Sasquatch Books, 1994  

Goodman, Myra. Food to Live By. New York, NY, Workman Publishing Co, 2006

Hupping, Carol, editor. Stocking Up: the third edition of the classic preserving guide. New York, NY, Simon & Schuster 1990

Jackson, Jan. 100 Day Pantry: Quick and Easy Gourmet Meals. Springville, UT, Cedar Fort, Inc. 2010

Main, Jan. The Best Freezer Cookbook: Freezer Friendly Recipes, Tips and Techniques. Toronto, Canada, Robert Rose, Inc. 2001

Taylor-Hough, Deborah. Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month. Milwaukee, WI, Champion Press Ltd, 2002

Watson, Linda. Wildly Affordable Organic, Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet on $5 a Day or Less. Cambridge, MA, Da Capo Press, 2011

Wilson, Amy. Once-A-Month Cooking: A Time-Saving, Budget- Stretching Plan to Prepare Delicious Meals. Colorado Springs, CO: Focus on the Family Publishing, 1992

Wohlenhaus, Tara. The Freezer Cooking Manual, A Month of Meals Made Easy. Brownsburg, IN, 30 Day Gourmet Press, 1999



o Store your basic pantry items—the things that you will use regularly.
o Store foods you regularly eat—it is a waste of money and space to purchase and store something that you won’t use, even if you got a good deal on it.
o Store refrigerator and freezer foods—learn the basics of freezing fruits and vegetables, or buy from the grocery store. This will give you a variety of foods available.
o Don’t forget to include non-food items—Toilet Paper, Toothpaste, Batteries, Soap, Cold Medicine, Pain Reliever, Personal Items, you get the idea.
o Store Water
o Store Fuel



o Save money during challenging economic times
o Food prices are going up—get it now and save money
o Peace of Mind for:

Potential Job Loss
Natural Disaster
Meal Planning purposes
Winter Storms
o You can control what your family eats and eat healthy, nutritious meals
o Even if you don’t cook from your pantry all the time, knowing that you CAN gives you a sense of power and freedom.


A well-stocked three-month pantry allows you to cook
and enj   *********oy most recipes without running to the store!most recipes without running to the store!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


How to Cook in an Emergency
If the Power goes off for One Week – How will you Cook?

Five Principles of Emergency Cooking:
1.       Cook Safely
2.       Do what is easy, use what you have
3.       Be efficient – use inexpensive methods and conserve fuel
4.       Make it interesting – add variety and “comfort foods”
5.       Practice your skills

Cook Safely
Choose cooking methods and fuels that are safe.  Never use charcoal indoors.  It depletes oxygen and gives off carbon monoxide, a deadly poison.  Be careful with volatile fuels such as white gas (Coleman fuel) that can spill, or evaporate and create an explosion hazard.  Always fuel white gas appliances in the out-of-doors, and away from buildings.  Advice on emergency cooking and use of fuels is available at http://gilescounty.org/pdf%27s/Community_Version.pdf pages 92-96.  As always, be careful to avoid burns when dealing with hot appliances and utensils.

Do What is Easy
With no power, you can still do a lot of things to provide food.  Eat cold cereal and use up the milk in the fridge.  Eat everything else in your fridge before it goes bad.  Eat other items that don’t need cooking such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Leave your freezer closed as much as possible, and power it with a generator if you can; eEat things that might go bad before they do so. Be sure you have a hand-crank can opener for when the power is off.  Use disposable aluminum baking trays, paper plates, plastic utensils, and paper towels to reduce water usage.  MREs are easy to prepare and provide lots of calories.  You can use your propane BBQ, especially if it has a side burner, to cook in the same manner as you normally do.  If you have an indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire pit, try some Dutch oven cooking.

Be Efficient
Efficiency can make limited resources do a lot and last a long time.  This may not matter if you use a wood stove to heat your home, it is the middle of winter, you can cook food on top of your stove and you have several cords of dry firewood available to you.  However, if you only have your propane BBQ and it has just a few inches of fuel in the bottom of the tank, making it last a week will take some creativity.  Check out “haybox” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haybox or fireless cooker at http://www.paceproject.net/UserFiles/File/Energy/make%20a%20fireless%20cooker.pdf or the apple box oven at gilescounty (p. 94) to see how using a burner for a few minutes can cook a meal for an hour or more.  Think about the most efficient way to cook; imagine what you would get if you had $100 to spend on emergency cooking gear.

Make it Interesting
Adding variety can make your meals much more interesting and homey, as well as more nutritious.  Having some comfort foods can help your family feel better and can relieve some of the stress of the emergency, as described here; http://beprepared.com/article.asp?ai=53&name=Emergency%20Comfort%20Foods.  This website has many useful “insight articles” about emergency preparedness and emergency cooking.

Practice Your Skills
Once a week cook a meal using no electricity and making use of an alternative cooking method (pizza or take-out does not count!)  Once a month, use alternative cooking methods for an entire day.  Refine your cooking methods and what food you keep on-hand accordingly.

To Cook, You Need: Heat, Food and Water

Heat – What to Cook With
Seven Methods
1.       Don’t cook at all (see “Do What is Easy” above).
2.       Flameless Heating / MRE Heater
a.       Advantages: Great for a few people for a few days due to ease of storage and use.
b.      Disadvantages: For larger groups and longer periods of time is expensive, bulky and boring.
3.       Primitive Stoves, Fuel Tablets, Stove in a Can, #10 Can, Sterno, “penny” alcohol stove
a.       Advantages: Inexpensive, easy to use, can cook things other than just an MRE.  Sterno and alcohol stoves can be used indoors.
b.      Disadvantages: Difficult to control flame size, limited cooking capacity.  Alcohol presents spill hazards and the flame is invisible.
4.       Camping or Backpacking Stoves – Coleman White Gas, Kerosene, Propane, Butane, Jetboil, etc.
a.       Advantages: Portable, powerful, can adjust flame size on most, butane is safe to use indoors
b.      Disadvantages: Must have the right fuel for them.
5.       Wood Fire, Fireplace, Wood Stove, Kelly Kettle, Rocket Stove, Charcoal Briquettes and Dutch Oven
a.       Advantages: You can find fuel anywhere, heat output is easily controlled, can heat water and food separately.  Wood stove can heat your home.  Briquettes can be stored for years, Dutch oven cooking is delicious!
b.      Disadvantages: Need wood or other combustibles, wood fire can be smoky.  Charcoal must be used outdoors, can be difficult if raining.
6.       Volcano Multi-fuel Stove – Wood / Charcoal / Propane
a.       Advantages: Can use almost any fuel, heat output ranges from tiny to huge, can use propane to light wood fire.
b.      Disadvantages: Wood fire can be smoky; must have propane fuel if using propane fire ring.
7.       Propane Oven / Stove Combo or Propane BBQ
a.       Advantages:  Can bake or pan-fry or both.  Very easy to use, very easy to store fuel for, many BBQs have a side burner that you can use for cooking in a pan.
b.      Disadvantages: Must have propane to use; remember to fill the tank!

Food – What to Cook
1.       MRE – the work is already done for you
2.       Prepared Fresh – more work, but more nutritious and delicious
3.       Dehydrated – you can dehydrate your own food and store it for everyday use or for emergencies
4.       Freeze Dried – somewhat expensive; good nutrition and flavor with ease-of-use – just add boiling water
5.       Canned – easy to store and can usually last several years

Water – water storage is covered elsewhere, but you will probably need 1-2 gallons of water per person per day.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Natural Disaster Educational Resources
Will It Blow? – Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens by Elizabeth Rusch illustrated by K.E. Lewis

Weather Projects for Young Scientists by Mary Kay Carson

Time for Kids

Where Do Earthquakes Happen? By Wil Mara

Janice VanCleave’s - Mind Boggling Experiments You Can Turn Into Science Fair Projects

Kids Guide to Staying Safe Around Fire by Maribeth Boelts

Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll by Franklin M. Branley Pictures by Barbara & Ed Emberley

We Shake In A Quake by Hannah Gelman Givon illustrated by David Uttal

National Geographic - Witness to Disaster by Judy & Dennis Fradin
Earthquakes - Witness to Disaster
Droughts - Witness to Disaster
Hurricanes - Witness to Disaster
Volcanoes - Witness to Disaster
Tsunamis - Witness to Disaster

Magic Tree House Books by Mary Pope Osborne
These include not just the story books but the companion books – Fact Trackers
#13 Vacation Under the Volcano - Ancient Rome and Pompeii
#23 Twister on Tuesday – Twisters and Other Terrible Storms
#24 Earthquakes in the Early Morning
#28 High Tide in Hawaii – Tsunamis and Other Natural Disasters
#50 Saturday in a Snowstorm

Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole
Original Series
The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth
The Magic School Bus Inside a Hurricane
Chapter Books
Twister Trouble
Electric Storm
Voyage to the Volcano
Scholastic Reader Level 2
The Magic School Bus Weathers the Storm
The Magic School Bus Lost in Snow
The Magic School Bus Rides the wind
To the rescue:
Forest Fire
Flash Flood
Science Readers
The Magic School Bus Blows its Top
The Magic School Bus Kicks up a storm

When Dinosaurs Die : A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Mark Brown

Magic School Bus
Gets Rocking – Out of this world & Blows its top
In the Air – Kicks up a Storm and Gets lost in Space
Bill Nye the Science Guy:
Earth’s Crust
Wetlands (if you live in a flood plain)
Safety Smart Science with Bill Nye the Science Guy
Germs and your health

TV Shows
Bill Nye the Science Guy
Rescue Hero’s (Qubo Channel)  http://www.qubo.com/index.php?path=show&id=19 
Magic School Bus (Qubo Channel)

Basically, there is a TON of info online for whatever disaster you can imagine.  So, we weeded out the not-so-great ones and left the big, fun ones.  There are many websites for small children with games, interactive web pages, coloring stuff, videos, etc.  Mostly it's about educating them so they recognize a disaster when it happens and they know what to expect during and afterward.  

http://www.ready.gov/parents-teachers - FEMA's website for parents and teachers with resources for teaching children about preparedness

Younger Children:
www.sparky.org - Sparky the Firedog invites kids to learn about fire safety through interactive web games, downloadable coloring pages, and other activities

www.smokeybear.com/kids - Smokey the Bear helps kids learn about fire safety through an interactive web site with games and activities

www.ready.gov/kids/fun-games - FEMA's website for kids with games, comic strips, coloring pages, and music

http://www.jojosplace.org/index-intl.php - interactive website for kids divided into age groups (10yrs and younger/11year and older) teaches about coping with an earthquake and educating the children on what to do, how to feel after an earthquake, what to recognize around them, etc.

http://www.usfa.fema.gov/kids/flash.shtm - US Fire Administration's website specifically for fire safety

http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/edu/bm/bm_main.html  - downloadable coloring pages for kids teaching about safety during thunderstorms, winter storms, tornadoes, etc.

http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/ready  -
Sesame Street
videos for kids teach about having an emergency plan and being prepared; also has games, coloring pages, and more

www.justincasearizona.com/educator-toolkit/toolkits.asp - memory game, scavenger hunt, coloring pages, songs, worksheets, home hazard hunt checklist

Older Children/Teenagers:

http://www.jojosplace.org/index-intl.php - interactive website for kids divided into age groups (10yrs and younger/11year and older) teaches about coping with an earthquake and educating the children on what to do, how to feel after an earthquake, what to recognize around them, etc.

http://scijinks.jpl.nasa.gov/index  - interactive website for older children and teenagers; teaches about weather science and safety

Extra educational links and resources that are good but not as great and the ones previously listed:

For teachers/homeschoolers (has a free trial)

Disaster Education Games http://www.rpl.org/index.php?id=393

The American Red Cross Masters of Disaster® curriculum is centered on a series of ready-to-go lesson plans that help organizations educate youth about important disaster safety and preparedness information.
Masters of Disaster can be used to help reduce children's anxiety about unknown aspects of disasters and tragic events. They will also gain confidence to deal successfully with life's unexpected turns.
The Masters of Disaster® Family Kit and Educator's Kit are available for order through your local Red Cross chapter or the StayWell website at ShopStayWell.com.
·         The Family Kit is priced at $24.00.
·         The Educator's Kit is priced at $30.80.

http://www.neok12.com/Natural-Disasters.htm - disaster education videos and games 

Magic School Bus quizzes and games on their site
www.scholastic.com/magicschoolbus look at games and quizzes, and parent/teacher lesson plans and parties

There are also apps available for your smart phone, which we thought was kind of neat.  They're for adults, but still very good information to have when you might not have access to a TV or a computer during a disaster.  These are the app titles:
American Red Cross: Shelter View

OMSI - $12 adult $9 youth (3-13)

1945 SE Walter Ave
Portland, OR

Safety Learning Center and Fire Museum - free
Historic Belmont Firehouse

900 SE 35th Ave
Portland, OR

Portland Police Historical Museum – Free
Justice Center

111 SW 2nd Ave
Portland, OR
509-832-0019 (call in advance to check hours)

Mt. St. Helens National Monument
Separate junior ranger programs at each of the 3 visitor centers

Cub Scouts

Boy Scouts

Girl Scouts
Preparedness Patch Press Release (no other information was available)


Children and Disasters Part 1

Which comes first the disaster or the child?

As parents we know the damage a child can do.
In preparedness the same is true – the child is here before the disaster and our preparations should center around them rather then just how we will take care of them. This is about preparing your child for a disaster rather than what to do after (however we will cover a bit of that in the next part). My band director in high school always said “it is better to be proactive than reactive.” The more prepared your child is the less coping and distress will occur during and after. Part 1 will cover the physical preparations to consider and tailoring them to your children, along with practicing and a little bit of education which will also be covered in the next class. Part 2 will cover lifestyle and education that will enable better coping and what to do to help them in and after a disaster to find healing and recovery. In each class we will also address children with special needs, infants and pregnancy.


There are 6 basic areas of preparation are:
       72 hour kits
       food storage
       car emergency kits
       information binder
       evacuation box
       Family Plan
Each of these areas can be tailored to better suit your families needs and comfort during a disaster, along with preparing them before they ever need to be used.

72 Hour Kits

I would add to 72 hour kit lists:
  • Extra pair of glasses
  • Keys
  • duct tape
  • head lamps (you’ll need hands free for kids)
  • work gloves for all family members
  • written copy of address book (important ones at least, comprehensive list can go into evacuation box)

http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/2011/03/21/72-hour-kits-revisited-part-1-of-2/ good list of supplies

http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/2011/03/24/72-hour-kits-revisited-part-2-of-2/ includes a list of food possibilities for your kit that includes gluten-free and vegan and meal planner worksheethttp://www.howdoesshe.com/72-hour-kits-for-kids  Rotation ideas, pictures, and lists

Your kit can make a disaster run more smoothly and be less traumatic. Most kits focus on the basics of food, water, clothing and shelter or warmth. But with children survival depends on the sanity of you both.


Getting you and your kids out the door is a challenge on the best of days. An emergency is not going to be pretty. Let’s look at survival in a disaster from the same stand point of taking a car trip. Loading the car is a pain! Getting everyone and their stuff in the car at on the road is stressful. Now imagine having to do this in 15 minutes or less with only the essentials. You need to be able to get everyone and thing into the car in as few trips as possible. One regular backpack for each child really means that you’ll be hauling 5+ backpacks out to the car. Not going to go smoothly, especially if you have infants or young children. Here are some tricks for increasing the mobility of your 72 hour kits and therefore yourselves.
       The Tub – a rolling tub that holds the families backpacks (individually or collectively). Individual packing is good if you have older kids who may stay home by themselves and will need to get out alone, but won’t be able to drag the tub out. Collectively is good for young families, where really mom and dad will be doing this.
       Suitcase – Once again this is a collective kit and is a smaller variety of the tub, However I have seen my own children are able to pulling a heavy suitcase out of the house though.
       Fisherman’s vest kit – Instead of a backpack have a vest for each family member. Just plan to meet at the closet, slip on the kits and file out the door. It would still need a larger water solution, but works ok. This one would be uncomfortable carrying if you had to walk, but let’s face comfort isn’t going to be found in carrying anything around unless you’re used to that. Be sure to find vests with 26 pockets and carrying loops. So far I’ve only found one company online that carries actual children’s sizes.
·          www.jmcremp.com – the only place I was able to find online with children’s fishing vest. The others all say youth which is not small enough. Theirs also has the clips and 26 pockets.

A child can carry 20-25% of their body weight. So I recommend weighing their packs- for all ages, and take into consideration the fitness level of your kid. If they’re not there – get them there. Also the individual pack will be something you’ll want if you’re child has sensory needs as that weight and pressure will actually help them cope with the serious stimuli they will have encountered and the help levelize their already heighten awareness, this includes children with ADHD/ADD.


Sticking to the car trip analogy, we’re going to look at another major issue with most kits – entertainment! A car trip with children requires LOTS of entertainment! And all of us know that your sanity level is on edge when that runs out. In a disaster situation, your kids are going to be acting similar to a car trip. High Stung, antsy, irritable, and whiny! You are going to need all the help you can get. Make sure you take this into consideration in your kits. Not just the kids but your selves.  The diversions not only help the two of you remain calm but it actually keeps them from ruminating on the event and allows better coping as they’re brain takes a break. Remember you’re entertainment needs to be versatile so it can be repeated with out losing interest and should be family oriented.

       Paper and pencils are important to not just for entertainment but a lot of the coping emotionally will be happening in that notebook, whether drawing, or writing.  I would avoid crayons because they could melt in the sun or if it’s to hot in the car. Use markers or color pencils with a sharpener.
       Games - Card games are a great solution- UNO phase 10, old maid, and go fish.  Travel games are a great option as well. Burger king will sometimes carry these in their happy meals if there isn’t a themed toy so be on the look out there. Hit the dollar store for a great variety of small puzzles, toys and travel sized games.
       Books- Be sure the books are new and unfamiliar but similar to some beloved favorites. Although I would recommend that if your kids have a stack of favorites that they could read for hours – pack them. Familiarity is an important thing in helping them cope as well.
       Avoid battery operated toys or devices! You don’t want to carry 20 lbs of batteries and they will go through them so FAST. Besides, we’ve all experienced the melt down that accompanies being forced to turn something off, or when the batteries die. This is the last thing you need, so don’t go there.
       Comfort item – every child seems to have that one ratty stuffed animal that they literally can live without. Don’t forget it! Pack a second in your pack or get as close as possible. You are not going to be able to search your house looking for it. If their favorite changes frequently, just be sure to pack something. A security item is important to helping them cope, and gives a feeling of security. McDonalds has these little teddies that would work great!
       List of indoor games and rules- it’s been awhile since elementary school and many of our favorite games aren’t played any more. Chances are you don’t remember – but that is a weight free game that can be taken along.
o    www.fungameskidsplay.com – classic games, clapping games, etc

Another option to consider is an Emergency Entertainment pack. Instead of packing a little in each pack; create one pack dedicated to entertainment.


Rotating your items becomes even more important with children due to their growth rates. In 6 months it’s possible to have everything in kit become obsolete if you’re not careful. But rotating clothing and items is a difficult item. Some tips for rotating include
       Pack for rotation
·         Put the items you need to rotate at the top of the pack so you don’t have to unpack the entire thing to change out their clothes or diapers (this works as well with the items you think you’ll need first –first aid kit or a teddy or pacifier)
·         Categorize things into Ziploc bags – just pack the new bag and remove the old one, food or clothing. This is also helpful in the northwest for waterproofing.
·         Pack 2 sizes to big – you won’t have to rotate as frequently. Besides you can wear something that’s too big but good luck squeezing your screaming child into an outfit to small.
       When – remembering to do it is another huge obstacle – because it’s like we really have that much free time n our hands?
·         Set an appointment – treat it like the dentist. Right after you finish rotating or building it pick your date 6 months or a year from then and set an alarm for it (if you use your phone), mark your calendar
·         Reward yourselves
·         Race a friend
·         Be accountable – post it on face book with your deadline, report to a friends, if you keep it to yourself it won/t happen
·         Host a kit party – each family brings their kits and up-dated food and clothing (or if just starting assign supplies to each family that they bring for the entire group) share the food from everyone’s kits (if it’s still edible) and enjoy each others company and maybe watch a disaster movie (if age appropriate)
·         Use holiday’s as a reminder
o   Christmas – updated section for presents
o   Halloween – an excuse to get stash a bit if their candy away
o   April fool’s day- I’d be fool to be caught unprepared
o   Religious observances (conferences, holiday’s – Passover)
o   Disaster weekend (we’ll get to that in a bit)
o   September has been preparedness month for FEMA (see ready kids)

Other considerations
·         Weather – you can rotate for warm and cold weather. Or you can just pack for warm and have a good pair of scissors in your pack
·         Pack two of everything (3 if potty training) – bedwetting and regression are normal symptoms of trauma
·         Pack closed toe shoes – they can never find them when you need them so just pack them just incase.
·         Extra blankets – bedwetting
·         KEYS just pack an extra you can never find them when you need them (shed, car, home)
·         Contraceptive (blackouts and winter storms always bring an increase in births)
·         Trial sized toiletries and thrift store clothing


On the blog is a meal plan worksheet – I would recommend filling this out with each child and helping them decide their menu. This will help avoid tantrums and arguments. There is also a list of food ideas on the blog in the 72 hour kits revisited section that has everything from gluten-free and vegan to MRE’s and normal food.
Things to consider
o   Low sugar – this is the last place that you want to deal with a hyper child. Fruit snacks and juice boxes included.
o   Calorie dense foods – but they need to taste good. Check labels because what may seem high calorie may be just high sugar. Look for nutrient dense as well.
o   Be familiar to the child. They will not suddenly decide to eat a kashi bar and like it. Starving them out just means a lot of cranky fights and tantrums until the give in. If you think it’s something that they may like and would work try it now, numerous times before putting it in their bag
o   Rationing- this is why the planner is so great – they will go through and eat all the M&M’s out of the trail mix and the granola bars and then whine and cry and refuse to eat anything else. Working on the planner together helps them understand and agree to when and what to eat. If you have younger children that can’t handle that – consider putting the food in your bag so you can ration it.
o   Bribery- you are going to need all the help you can get! Rewards will go along way to helping ensure a harmonious environment. This may also be comfort food, but I recommend packing this in your bag to keep it as such rather than their snack.
o   WATER and filter – this is especially important if you are pregnant or nursing as your water needs are higher.
o   Pack a little more food than you need – kids may live off air and then suddenly eat you out of house and home. Plan on it
o   Remember food allergies and sensitivities – picky eaters and allergies are not what you want to be dealing with. Remember that the foods in others packs may be more accessible to a child than usual and plan everyone’s food (if possible) to that child’s allergies to avoid problems.


http://www.midwife.org/siteFiles/education/giving_birth_in_place.pdf - a complete guide to emergency child birth including an emergency birthing kit

I would think about adding an extra shower curtain and a paper tape measure.

       You’re going to need a list of approved medications and prenatal vitamins. This list is just as important since there is a lot of over the counter medications and pain killers that are off limits and it’s important to know what those are.
       Pack for morning sickness, so add foods that will settle your stomach (mint, ginger, soda crackers, and mint gum).
       Remember smells and food sensitizes that make you nauseas and remove them from all kits.
       Don’t forget to pack for cravings! If possible – look for alternatives (watermelon flavored gum for watermelon).
       Maternity clothes are important too, I would recommend packing a size too big, so it should last throughout the entire pregnancy, along with swelling that could be caused by traveling.
       Include a copy of your medical records and all medical contact information
       Food needs to be high in calcium and protein. It’s important to include fruits and veggies as well. Remember to pack for a high calorie diet.
       Be prepared for delivery – stress can do a number on the body and can cause early delivery. My midwife always warned me that storms and full moons always meant an increase in deliveries. Besides it may be a while before emergency personal can reach you or due to triage you could get delayed for help.
·         Nursing bra and nursing pads, along with feminine supplies
·         Emergency birthing kit – list and instructions on the blog – add this to your stash at the beginning of the third trimester. I recommend having 2 one for your home and one for your car (its far more likely that you will deliver there than in a disaster)
·         If you have friends or family that are all expecting at different times – consider working together to put one together and pass between each other at the 3rd trimesters.


great list, complete with pictures and packing guide (handout created)
I would add a few recommendations:
- use paper cups and plastic spoons instead of regular bowls or add antibacterial wipes of “doing dishes””
- increase the pairs of socks to 6-10 since they can double as mittens for keeping hands warm too
- burp rags (her baby must be different than mine)
- 2 emergency blankets they retain more heat, but keep the receiving ones since their more comfortable
- hand warmers
- Thermos (mini fridge or keeps formula warmer longer)
- roll of toilet paper
- teething tablets or gel
- pedialyte or singles equivalent
- nursing pads

An infant kit should be added at the beginning of the first trimester.  Full list is on the blog
       Prepare to breastfeed – this is the safest food for your baby in a disaster. Even if using bottled water and washing and boiling.
·         Even if you aren’t planning on breastfeeding take a class and be prepared so you have an understanding if you need to.
·         A mother can re-lactate even months after birth. It takes some more work but is possible- success is more likely the younger the infant is.
o   To re-lactate (not a guarantee but possible)
§  Frequent skin to skin contact (every 2 hours) with sucking
§  Gradual increase in supply is expected
§  You’ll need lots of extra support and encouragement
·         Not only does it help your baby but it also releases a hormone reducing maternal stress, and anxiety. Besides it gives you an excuse to rest and relax while you feed the baby (or escape into a good book)
·         Pack for soreness if you haven’t been breastfeeding – lanolin and soothies or gel packs
·         Extra water and calories for mom (nursing requires more than pregnancy)
       Still pack water and formula (powdered) – liquid formula requires refrigeration once opened. (so unless you know they can down it in one sitting don’t pack it.
       Case of diapers (1-2 sizes bigger or be diligent rotating diapers)
       Rotate your wipes so they don’t dry out
       HAVE A baby wrap of snuggly – an infant reacts to trauma as well and will have an increased need to be held, this also mimics the womb for a newborn and is very comforting all while leaving you with 2 hands free. Think Sacagawea!
       Consider Packing a back packing stove for heating water and bottles. Add a thermos for keeping things warm or cold longer.
       Pack extra clothes and Ziploc baggies for dirty diapers and laundry.

Special needs

       Food sensitivities and allergies
       Greater importance that food and items packed are familiar to them
       Sensory needs – head phones, weighted vests (or just force them to wear their kit all day) clothing that meets their acceptance (used clothing is better sense they can usually feel  the difference between new and used), sunglasses
       Comfort items- these need to be used familiar items and will extend beyond normal comfort items. Silver ware and dishes they normally eat with, the same clothes (interchange for a while or wash repeatedly) that they have at home. Your bag needs to be an extension of the home they left.
       Pay attention to their triggers and what helps them cope and add these to your bag or the special needs form (to be discussed briefly)
       Sensory relief  or stimuli– stress balls, “chewies” – discuss this with your occupational therapist
       Entertainment should be based on their fetish (history, art, pokemon) and be varied enough to maintain their attention (especially if ADD/ADHD) Don’t pack things that are too challenging or easy look for a balance to avoid melt downs. if you have to bring a game boy or DVD player – LOTS OF BATTERIES or purchase a solar charger.

Food Storage

       Store what you eat but store extra of what you’re kids willingly eat – extra stress  already avoid family meal time distress
       Make sure you have adequate water for all needs – toilet, wash, drinking, and cooking needs (mountain house meals = increase in water needs)
       Avoid high sugar and junk foods – they are addictive and withdrawals is not worth it
       Remember special needs, allergies and food sensitizes
       Include vitamins and fluoride in your food storage
       Use your food storage as your regular diet
·         it gets them familiar with the food – especially important with picky or sensitive eaters
·         in an emergency is the last place to introduce new foods
·         practice cooking with it means better tasting food (now is the time not then)
·         some foods can make you sick if you aren’t used to eating them regularly
o   beans and whole wheat (even if you don’t make it regularly, buy it and eat it regularly)
o   sickness or upset is not what you want to be dealing with in a disaster.
       Plant a garden together and harvest it together – if you can get chickens and animals (this also teaches the work skills and responsibility that they will need to help with recovery)


       nausea foods- ginger, mint, soda crackers
       extra water (increase water again for breastfeeding and formula needs)
       Storage highly craved foods when possible
       Begin storing for baby while pregnant
·         Diapers, formula, wipes, nursing pads
·         It also prepares your budget for another person
       Prenatal vitamins and b-vitamins (help with nausea as does Unisom)
·         Zinc and magnesium can help with post-partum depression and blues

Car Emergency Kits

As mentioned previously – entertainment is going to be one of your key issues in a disaster of stranded in your car. (a list for an emergency car kit is on the site and there’s an entire booth here) I follow the same standards in food and entertainment as for your 72 hour kit. As a parent I would recommend that you extend you car kit to include “parenting emergencies” – such as blow outs, car sickness. Include a change of clothes for the entire family, along with garbage sacks to cover seats if needed. If you have an infant consider a breast pump and batteries – you will want to try and keep baby in their seat in case of an accident (even if you aren’t moving). You may want to have a separate emergency entertainment kit in your car (NO CRAYONS!!!!) or just have a permanent collection in the car of games, books and notepads. Be sure to have extra blankets. One picnic blanker isn’t going to car the three rows of seats in your mini van. Plan accordingly or have individual emergency blankets in your kit. Remember a van or suburban uses more gas so it’s even more than a car so even more important to keep it full.


You will need extra water, feminine supplies, maternity clothes, medical contacts, towels, and Emergency birthing kit. I would also recommend a bowl that can be sealed for morning sickness.

Information Binder

http://www.whathappensnow.com/articles_show.cfm?id=498&cat=8&sub=1  - forms for everything links: includes forms for inventory, contacts, damage, and clean up. Look under the disasters categories. (Really this site is a great resource for quite a few of life’s disasters) I would recommend use these for your emergency information binder, it will cover everything.

There really should be one of these in your home that can be found easily in an emergency. I don’t recommend one in your car, because it will contain some important personal information. This will contain all vital information for each family member. This can be grabbed in an emergency and brought will you or a smaller version (the go-kit passport) can go into your 72 hour kit. (I would recommend doing both as you may not remember to grab it if you leave in a hurry.
·         Immunization records
·         Medical records and contacts
·         Identification photos and fingerprinting (you can sign up for a free kit at Les Schwab)
·         Family emergency plan
·         Emergency instructions (water and gas shut off)
·         Contacts
·         Possible home inventory
·         Financial information (loan #’s contacts, banks, insurance information)
·         List of usernames and passwords
·         Copy of will
·         Disaster fact sheets (these have instructions for before, during, and after every possible disaster)

There are also individual cards that can be placed in wallets and back packs with contact information, and meeting locations.

Whathappensnow.com is a great resource for forms that can be filled out and printed for your binder

Special needs

There is a special needs form (labeled for autism but it will work for any) that I would recommend adding to your binder and go kit. Other Information to include
       All doctors and therapists
       Full health records
       List of surrounding medical facilities that offer treatments
       List of all models and serial numbers for all medical equipment
       List of triggers and helps for behavior issues

Evacuation Box

http://www.phantomranch.net/comunity/evaclist.htm  Evacuation list and checklist

This is strictly for if you have enough time to grab one extra box. If you have kids you won’t really have time to run around with a pre-made list of “grab and go” items. Store them in one box where they are accessible when ever they are needed and then make sure you return them to the box. I recommend using a file box with a snap lid and carrying handle, or a fireproof/waterproof box.
       First priority – original paperwork (copies can go into 72 hour kit if you think they are important but sense these are needed frequently I place mine here)
·         For infants if you haven’t gotten their birth certificate have their crib card and hospital papers
       Second priority – sentimental items – family history, pictures
·         Go digital – jump drive, DVD
·         Skip pictures and files and just get carbonite
       Third – extra survival items – medical supplies, extra batteries, camp stove and propane, nicer food   
·         Infants –extra wipes, onesies, blankets


Pregnant & special needs (part of it handout created)

http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=1422&itemID=33723&URL=Research%20&%20Reports/Fact%20sheets/Prepare%20for%20an%20emergency/Get%20Ready!&cookie%5Ftest=1 - NFPA get ready family emergency plan, NFPA home fire escape plan (handouts). Available in Spanish and English

All of your preparation means little if you don’t have a written plan and review it often
       Write it down
       Map out meeting locations and regular family routes so you can easily find each other based on usual locations through the day. This is especially helping in helping your children understand the importance of why they need to let you know where they are at all times.
       Contacts – out of state and local emergency contacts – your out of state contact should know they are in charge of alerting other family members and friends that you are ok, this frees phone lines and quickly gets information out, with the less stress and time spent by you. You will have enough to deal with let someone deal with frantic loved ones. Have 2 local contacts – one in the neighborhood and one outside your neighborhood incase you aren’t home or can’t return home
       Have a communication plan – how will you get a hold of each other if separated. Do your kids try and call you, where to reach you, central contact person?
       Use the information card discussed earlier – especially if kids are unable to memorize phone numbers and addresses.
       Try to have at least one member CPR certified
       If you are a single parent, expecting or have a child with special needs at home, have an emergency helper who knows to come assist you getting everyone out. They should know that they come ASAP without needing a phone call. They should have a copy of your plan also
       Give a copy to your out of town contact so they will know where everyone is and what to expect. And you have a backup in case anything happens to yours. Knowing you’re prepared also keeps them calm.
       How will you get the warning –apps? Radio? TV? Family?
       Be disaster specific – tornadoes will have a different meeting place than earthquakes or winter storms


       On-call help is important since you may be unable to pick up anything including a child – update on-call help of any changes in conditions (bed rest, c-section, etc) they will need a copy of plan also
       Add baby to plans now rather than later
       Include birth plan and hospital routes
       Review each trimester
       Practice labor techniques and take a birthing class
       Get to know your neighborhood midwives
       Review and update plan at each trimester – add Junior at 3rd trimester to all plans

Physical disabilities

Mobility and safety will be their biggest concerns and should be where we put the greatest preparation into
       Once again the one call help is important
       Practice as well
       Accommodate their needs (see chart online)
       Include a medical bracelet in planning
       Special alert system (deaf can’t hear alarm and blind can’t see lights)
       Register with local fire and police
       Assign family member to be their “disaster buddy” and have one assigned at school – should be able to sign and interpret as needed
       Review it will them often, this is for peace of mind and memorization – who will help them leave, what that help will entail, and where they will be going

Putting it all together

Be sure to include your children in your preparations. Have them help plan the menu in their 72 hour kit, purchase food and games, load backpacks, and decide what to add or remove from food storage (upon parental approval). All these things will help them be more mindful of your families emergency plan, but also give them a sense of security and safety, during and after the disaster as well. Also include them in looking around your home for safety spots and identifying potential hazards. (see blog for checklists)
Together create a purchasing schedule – 1-2 items each week – when they understand the importance they will be more likely to support financial decisions that enable that plan and the sacrifices that go with it.


Everything we’ve talked about means little if you don’t practice it, and if you don’t practice response. There are many ways to practice emergency preparedness with your children besides the usual drills, these include
       Disaster weekend
       Pioneer week
       Camping and backpacking
       Games and Family Home Evening
       Good Habits


Do monthly drills and spontaneous safety spot checks. There are two options for earthquake safety – the triangle off life and the drop and cover method. I would encourage both as the drop and cover may not always be accessible. Don’t just drill for fires, have earthquakes, tornadoes, evacuation (make it a race).
Review what to do at the beginning of the month and warn them this month we will have an earthquake drill (other chosen disaster). Always make them spontaneous.

Disaster weekend

This is a drill on steroids. As a family or with other family or friends plan weekend staged disaster. I recommend this as part of your 72 hour kit rotation schedule. For one weekend you will live in the aftermath of a disaster. Together pick your disaster and weekend (incase you need to get work off and to avoid missing events). Use the disaster handouts and your emergency plan to review and plan the weekend. Live off your kits, whether sheltering in place or in the wilderness, or evacuate to a friends house (with their approval). Remember no electricity! After the weekend review your plan, update your kits, and evaluate how it went and what would be different if there really was a disaster. I’m not sure I would recommend staging a car emergency and living in your car for the weekend, but I guess that really is up to you, however you may want to warn the neighbors.

http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=1422&itemID=33723&URL=Research%20&%20Reports/Fact%20sheets/Prepare%20for%20an%20emergency/Get%20Ready!&cookie%5Ftest=1 - use the Fact Sheets to plan your disaster weekend, and then after word use them to update your kits and plans from what you’ve learned and what was used. Available in English and Spanish.

Pioneer week

Go a step further by doing a week of primitive living. This is one week focusing on the basics, no electricity, and work. Our family prefers focusing on pioneers, but my sister-in-law does third world countries and different time periods. This prepares them for a different lifestyle and links the situation with memories and enjoyment and not stress and fear. Late in an actual disaster you can tell your kids (younger since the older ones will look at you like you’re crazy, that we’ll just pretend it’s a pioneer week. It’s easier to pretend you’re doing something you’ve done before when you’re brain wants to be preoccupied with the disaster your in.
Talk to friends and family members to plan field trips to gather eggs, milk a cow, gather veggies from a garden. Not only do they learn skills, but you also have contacts in an emergency that you could ask for help or barter with. But the best benefit is that your family learns to live without the daily luxuries and know that they can do without them.
Pioneer Week- visit Phillip Foster Farm for a good idea of what to do, or read some The Little House on the Prairie books for ideas. Go third world or historical by grabbing a book from the library on the desired time/place and use that to plan a menu (staples only), chores, recreation, and possible housing (tents, sleeping on the floor, etc).

Camping and backpacking

http://www.oregon.gov/OPRD/PARKS/lgc_intro.shtml - brochure for Oregon state parks “let’s Go Camping” program
http://camping.about.com/c/ec/1.htm  - 5 lessons on camping for beginners

A disaster is really an opportunity for an outdoor adventure. Camping and backpacking is a great way to practice this. Trust me when I say camping with kids takes practice (for parents and the kids). It teaches survival skills, and expectations for your child to rely on in a disaster. It prepares them for the physical demands of work and rough living conditions. These experiences test and build endurance- physically and psychologically. Your kids will learn what they are capable of handling and doing, it teaches how to deal with stress (it is stressful) and frustration. It may not seem like it but your practicing experiences will give you all something to laugh about in the disaster. Memories of flooded tents, burnt food, exhaustion and frustration will be comforting when you have mastered it. Camping can strengthen family bonds – which will be needed throughout disaster recovery stress.

There are lots of great resources for beginner camping and backpacking. I recommend starting with a camping trip in your backyard or somewhere close to home. It may take a few tries just to make it through the night, and figure out what you’ll need without forgetting something. There is also the Let’s go camping program from the Oregon state parks. These are ranger lead camping trips; it includes borrowed camping equipment and a complete guide for everything from setting up your tent, to cooking and fun. Work your way up to longer trips further from home, adding gear and skills as you go. I recommend keeping a list and everything in a box (I call it my chuck box). This can also become a handy in a disaster or evacuation situation if given time to get.
You can take your 72-hour kit backpacking or just keep your backpack stocked and ready as your emergency kit. I promise you the earlier you start the easier it is to get them used to it. My 2 young is already bugging me to go camping – because there are flowers out. Remember its normal for lots of can we go homes. Stick to your guns and finish it out. It’s best to push your limits by your own choice now than have your limits over-pushed for you later.

Games and FHE

(see links of educational resources)

(Family Home Evenings – FHE) There are some really great games and activities that you can do as a family to be prepared and teach about disasters. There is a booth on Family Home Evening Ideas and on the blog are links to games, and lesson plans (can be used by teachers, and parents) to teach disaster preparedness and awareness.
       You can have a drill down – call out the disaster, they have to shelter for it, if you miss it or are the last one your out. The last one standing is the “survivor” and wins the game.
       Charades – act out different disasters or what to do in them while they guess which one it is
       Matching game – make your own with pictures and instructions of what to do and they have to match response to disaster (earthquake – under desk)
       Scavenger hunts – this is a great way to look for potential hazards and safety issues in your home (there are 2 on the blog) any inspection list can become a scavenger hunt
       There are numerous coloring books and workbooks out there two along with on-line games. On the blog you’ll find a full list of what we think are the best ones.

Good Habits

Good habits are really just reflexes to guide your daily living. But in a disaster they can be what save your life or that of your kids.
       Chores – these teach survival skills, and personal responsibility. Survival is a family effort. Now is the time to teach them those skills not while you’re high strung.
·          www.dltk-cards.com/chart/ - custom charts for free
·          www.chorechart.net – part of freeprintables.net also free
       Cleanliness – Be sure to explain to your kids I’m not just making you do this because I want to make your life miserable or because I like having a clean house, but because this is a safety issue.
·         Putting shoes away in a central location – you need shoes to get outside or would you rather crawl around on glass looking for them
·         Clear exit for quick and safe escape in the case of a fire, in an earthquake it may just lessen the debris
·         Decrease fuel for fire (a likely hazard after any disaster even floods)
       Obedience – they need to learn that your instructions are important and for their safety. And you need to be able to trust that they will follow through so you can be free to prepare or take care of other things. Be specific in explaining this.
       Self-control – fighting and tantrums are going to an added source of stress in a disaster, do what you can to teach them now how to use indoor voices, resolve conflicts, handle frustration and disappointment.


“The most basic issue in psychological intervention following disasters is to transform those affected from being victims to survivors. What differentiates a victim from a survivor is that the former feels himself [sic] subject to a situation over which he has no control over his environment or himself, whereas a survivor has regained a sense of control and is able to meet the demands of whatever difficulty confronts him. A victim is passive and dependant on others; a survivor is not – he is able to take an active role in efforts to help his community and himself recover from the disaster.”
Lourdes Ladrido-Ignacio and Antonio P Perlas

This class is geared toward doing everything you can before and after to create a foundation for your children and family to be survivors and not victims. We will look at the 3 principles of psychological preparedness: Practice, Education, and lifestyle. Then we will discuss coping during and after the disaster. They may not seem like they are related but all these things have a great impact on your child’s ability to cope after. Remember there really is no way to avoid or prevent trauma, trauma is normal and to be expected, but we can do a great deal to lessen its effects and pave the way for healing before it is needed.


(see part 1 for links and more details)

If you were at the previous class we covered practices in a little more depth. Practices include:
       Regular drills
       Disaster weekends (stage and living in a imaginary disaster for a weekend including living off of your 72 hour kits),
       Pioneer week (extended practice for living without power and many modern luxuries, its meant to prepare your family for the different lifestyle that could come in the after math of a disaster, also giving the child a frame of reference that associates it with fond memories to help over ride the fear “we’ll just pretend we are in the 1800’s and are pioneers” as works with study of 3rd world countries and other time periods. The imagination is a powerful tool.)
       Camping and backpacking – once again associating a difficult situation with something of fond memories. It also takes practice to become comfortable living like this.
       Good Habits- cleanliness and safety.
       Rotating and updating together as a family – nothing create a feeling of safety in an emergency than Knowing that you and your family are ok and prepared. This is the BEST thing besides drills that you can do for your family.


(see educational links and resources page)

Education is the next principle is Education. Education is important for creating an expectation. A disaster and its effects will be far less traumatic if they understand why it happened, its natural causes, and the damage it can create. Children comprehend the world through paradigms and this is what defines their day. This is why they say they can’t go to bed until its dark – despite the time their paradigm states darkness equals night time. Their experiences teach them what to expect from birthday parties, the first day of school and what can happen in an earthquake. Creating these paradigms before an event is less stressful for a child and gives them a frame of reference. It decreases the factor of fear of the unknown.

There are a number of educational resources that can help create a positive and non frightening context for disasters. Now drills play a large part here since teaching them to recognize and distinguish between disasters and what to do in them. We are going to focus a bit more on education concerning disasters from a factual standpoint. When they understand the natural processes, these are based in laws and facts that are not affected by us; it helps to address the self blame and questioning that children instinctively do in stressful or traumatic situations.
1)      Is this my fault? They will already know that they had no bearing on the disaster and could have done little to stop it.
2)      What happened? The imagination is one of the biggest players in children’s fears. I read an account from the earthquake in Japan where their son was scared of water monsters (deathly scared). His parents finally realized that a Tsunami sounded like the name of a monster and based on what he had gathered from news and conversations it came from the water.
Children can understand a great deal more then we often give them credit for. It just needs approached from an age appropriate manner.
Education also answers the questions of what now and expectation. If having studied an earthquake they will have seen pictures of devastation. Thus when it happens to them they will be less traumatized.


There are some great resources for education, engaging that address disaster in a way that is not threatening, engaging and age appropriate. Although a good dose of fear is a good thing to help them understand the danger that accompanies disasters (we don’t want them to feel safe enough to dawdle), but we don’t want them having nightmares either. These include DVD’s, lesson plans (the home is the first classroom), books, websites, and games available. There is a list available on the blog and at the booth. We went through a lot of information and really feel like we found the cream of the crop.

Being so close to Portland we have a bounty of wonderful museums as well. OMSI has exhibits on earthquakes, along with IMAX movies which would be good for older children. Currently they are showing one on tornadoes and on May 26th they will be have a full exhibit on Natural Disasters! There is also the Safety Learning Center and Fire Museum a free museum on fire safety, and the Portland Police Historical Museum which is also free. These two museums also teach children to recognize the uniforms and efforts of those who will be coming to their aid in the time of a disaster. They can look very intimidating to a small child but when they become familiar with what they do they become a symbol of safety.

Another wonderful resource for education is Mt St. Helens. We live in an area surrounded by volcanoes. Now whether they are close by like Mt Hood or far like Lassen or Mt Baker, we will most likely be affected by them as demonstrated by Mt. St. Helens. And if there is a large earthquake, it will most likely trigger one of more. (Don’t mean to scare you). However they are one of kids Favorites! This National Monument actually has three visitors’ centers with different exhibits and focuses. It also has a junior geologist program and a junior ranger program where they can earn badges, a patch and other things. Along with the usual ranger lead talks and hikes. These are not just great ways to teach about volcanoes but also show them that recovery is possible. I highly recommend this one.


Lifestyle is the next principle for preparedness. Your current lifestyle can hinder or improve your survival and recovery in a disaster. Strive to create an environment that offers the least change given a disaster. This principle is really where we pave the way for later recovery.
       Lower-tech time – Read story or paraphrase – one this reduces or eliminates electric withdrawal (yes it’s real). It also fosters independent entertainment, self control, and regular positive interaction. These are things that are necessary after a disaster with stress is high. A child that knows how to initiate play and handle alone time is going to make everyone’s lives much easier.
       Daily schedules – this is the first step to recovery after a disaster – return to your usual schedule. Do you have one? We discussed earlier how children define their worlds through paradigms, your schedule and returning to it signals stability and safety. It’s a normal day because those things they are used to are happening just as they were before. After a disaster you will need to return to it as close as possible. If you have a child with special needs this is of greater importance and you are probably already aware of their reactions to a botched schedule. However if you have no schedule before the disaster there is nothing to fall back on, no reference.
       Family traditions – typically we think of holiday’s when some one talks about traditions. However a tradition is something that happens regularly, whether daily or annually. Get in the habit of having a special family tradition or activity that you do regularly. Regular family meals, bedtime stories, family prayer, cuddle time, and game nights are all great traditions that not only foster a healthy family bond but foster a healthy psychological being in every one.
       Regular family time – this is besides traditions. The importance of spending time together as a family is PARAMOUNT! A family who is always running around to extra curricular activities or friends and work rarely sees each other. What are you going to do when you suddenly get stuck together with no breaks in either a shelter or shut in situation? Especially if your children fight a lot, they need to have time to practice being around each other and learning the skills need to get along. It’s not the easy way but it will pay off, disaster or not.
       Self control and independence are big lifestyle skills that children and parents need in disaster situations. A child who can handle entertaining themselves, stay out of trouble and be obedient and helpful is one that will reduce stress on the family and move towards recovery without constant supervision. Self controlling also encompasses self-regulation. Practicing in-door voices and behaviors, the importance of obedience (a shouting match in the path of a tornado or in the middle of a shelter is not a good thing) Help them understand obedience is a safety issue not just a do what I say issue. Answer they’re why’s and explain your requests, while stating that they can trust that your requests are going to be for their safety and well being. 
       Work – working is something that kids need to foster the above skill but also to aid in their own recovery. One of the steps for coping after a disaster is … work to help provide relief, and this doesn’t just apply to adults. Just as in adults, it empowers them to take control of the situation, prove that they can change and make a difference. Service is the biggest part of coping and in a disaster that service will be in the form of work. Do you kids know how to handle a shovel, clean a house, and pick up their own toys? Do they have the stamina to help in these efforts? Besides work is a great babysitter. If they are occupied working they are not creating trouble – the last thing that either of you need in a disaster.
       Decrease fighting – fighting among siblings is a habit, do what ever you can to eliminate it!
       Personal responsibility – chores teach this while fostering a good work ethic and ability. Besides a clean house is less fuel for a fire, fewer hazards to step on, and a quicker safer escape. Practice putting things away where they belong (shoes coats, hats, toys) so they are there when you need them. An emergency is not the same thing as being late for church because you can’t find juniors shoes.
       Lessen dependence on material items – regularly go through toys and clothes, give them away and throw away broken ones. Decrease material presents for holidays and birthdays. Lessening material dependency will in essence decrease the amount of perceived loss. Those things will have less meaning due to their regular dismissal. It also decreases clutter/fuel/debris is a disaster.
       Decrease or quit – caffeine, smoking, alcohol and drugs! Now is better than high stress and cold turkey! Withdrawals while trying to take care of your family’s survival is not the best time.


http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/index.aspx/#natural - National Assoc. of School Psychologists website lots of links for coping
       Helping Children After a Natural Disaster: Information for Parents and Teachers
       Responding to Natural Disasters: Helping Children and families – Information for school crisis teams
       Coping with Crisis – Helping Children with special Needs

http://www.nctsnet.org/trauma-types/natural-disasters - National Child Traumatic Stress Network website - great information regarding how to help kids cope with traumatic situations - info divided into subcategories of floods, earthquakes, epidemics, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis

http://www2.aap.org/disasters/index.cfm - American Academy of Pediatrics website - info for parents to help children cope with natural disasters 


104 pg document covering everything, looks like it's for professionals. But a really great read for great information!
This document has specific intervention techniques in the appendixs

This site contains almost all disaster-related links and materials available. Here, you'll find mental health handouts as well as links to external disaster web sites, disaster mental health guides, and other informative materials useful in assisting disaster victims. Very impressive lists
http://www.trauma-pages.com/h/dissteps.php -Steps you can take to cope successfully in stressful situations
http://www.trauma-pages.com/h/famcope.php - Family coping strategies
http://www.trauma-pages.com/h/arcvic.php - Emotional Health Issues for Victims

http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/facts_for_families – facts for families search each sheet at the bottom of the site
o    Helping children after a disaster
o    Talking to children about terrorism and war
o    Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
o    The Depressed Child
o    Children and Grief

The numerous things covered beforehand are about the best you can do to prepare psychologically for a disaster. But what about after. Disasters are very traumatic; take hope children are extremely resilient. However there are some important factors to consider
1)      Children do and will react differently than adults.
2)      Children are still developing psychologically so that are in greater need of that support
Recovering emotionally/psychologically from a disaster may take longer than the clean up and physical recovery. However in all things early intervention is key.

Children interpret the world differently than adults, and this applies to disasters in particular
       They’re biggest concerns are typically that it will happen again, someone close to them will be killed or injured, or they will be separated from family or left alone.
       The disaster is viewed as a personal threat to them and their loved ones
       Their fears stem from their imaginations
       They are concrete thinkers – so there is a need for direct answers
       They are physical in their grief and stress
       Effects of a disaster will be magnified as they are still developing and will need to construct their identity around what ever damage was done. Be vigilant and quick to address their psychological needs.
What you will be doing to help them cope for the most part will be addressing those concerns and viewpoints.

Remember that children are affected right down to infants. Research suggests that children experience the effects doubly – directing from the event and indirectly from the effects on their parents and other trusted adults.
How you react will decide how they will react. If you can’t cope, neither will they. IT IS EXTERMLY IMPORTANT THAT YOU ARE PSYCHOLOGICALLY PREPARED AND THAT YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!!! There is also secondary traumatization - we may be unaffected while the disaster is close by and has affected loved ones and then go through similar emotional trauma symptoms.

Initial reactions and symptoms include

       Agitated or confused
       Intense fear
       Dissociation (emotional numbing or blocking of pain or trauma, usual with repeated trauma)
 What you can do immediately after a disaster
1)      Stay together as a family – your leaving will only heighten their anxiety. If one parent must leave, explain why, where you will be, when they’ll be back and have a special ritual or possession to take their place. Then upon return increase comfort and interaction.
2)      Calmly and firmly explain the situation each step of the way – get down on their eye level
3)      Encourage them to talk, have family discussions. Silence makes the event seem more dangerous or horrible.
4)      Include them in Recovery activities – chores or preparedness- it conveys to them a sense of everything will be alright and they are not helpless bystanders. They are doing something.
5)      Remember it is normal to have difficulty managing your emotions, but its important to deal with the stress before it becomes harmful. So take care of yourself!
6)      DO NOT SEND THEM AWAY even for their own safety! It is more traumatizing than the actual disaster to separate them from their families. If it is absolutely necessary have them go to a trusted family member or friend. Keep its duration as short as possible.

Symptoms of trauma

Symptoms will change over the course of time and as events occur. Symptoms will vary based on age groups as well. They may not exhibit all symptoms or any symptoms. Symptoms of trauma are cyclical, they may come and go based on dates, events, stimuli, or for no reason at all. This is normal. We will discuss abnormal trauma symptoms but for the most part be aware that these may surface frequently over the years due to the fact that the effects of the disaster can or will remain for years. Just continue to be present and available especially on anniversaries of the disaster, or when there are other triggers (similar disasters in other areas, or birthday’s of loved ones lost, or simply missing a favorite toy). While most victims of disasters are usually relatively free of distress by a year or two after the event, a quarter or more of the victims may still show significant symptoms while others, who had previously been free of symptoms, may first show symptoms a year of two after the disaster.

By age group


       Increase screaming and crying
       Increased need for cuddling and being held
What you can do
       Simply meet their needs
       Use the snuggly
       Use a pacifier
       Remember to take breaks – just like colic
       Take care of your emotional needs – they can sense your stress, fear, and anxiety and react in kind


       Sleep disturbances
       Agitated or confused
       Loss of appetite
       Excessive fear of the dark
       Stomach cramps and headaches
       Regression – accept initially, comfort without demands and gradually resume normal expectations. Don’t shame, criticize, or punish them. Reward good behaviors.
·         Thumb sucking
·         Bed-wetting
       Withdrawal from friends
What you can do
       Increase comfort and contact
       They’re not being bad – they’re afraid
       Frequent reassurance
       Allow them to grieve loss valuables (use of rituals which well discuss shortly)

Elementary age

       School avoidance
       Poor concentration
       Withdrawal from friends
       Fantasies that the disaster never happened
       May become preoccupied with the disaster
       Stomach aches and headaches
They will ask more questions
They’re fears will increase at night time (same with younger ages)
What to do
       Limit media exposure to the event
       Allow open expression- encourage them to re-tell the story emphasizing the ending on personal safety
       Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know
       Allow them to grieve loss valuables

Adolescents (as if they weren’t already complicated)
       Sleeping and eating disturbances
       Increase in conflicts
       Physical complaints
       Delinquent behavior
       Poor concentration
       Increase in risk taking behavior
       Fear of leaving home and withdrawal socially
       May try to down play their worries
What you can do
       Increase supervision for those with existing problems
       Allow them to have time with their friends
       Encourage discussion
       Give them some time

One of the biggest obstacles for parents in helping their children cope is that we often misinterpret their reactions as willful misconduct or it may remind parents of their own feelings of trauma. For some it may just be the need to keep things just right to feel like they have life under control.  It is important that we see these symptoms for what they are. You can support and not encourage behaviors at the same time. Remember they are scared not bad. Don’t deny them; they need to feel validated, and nurtured. Not recognizing these symptoms of misattributing them can have consequences on development as they feel insecure and inhibit expression or drive parents away more. For the time being support, and love them, make things as stable as possible and protect them.


Since we are the parents and really the key to how they react and cope with the disaster we need to be familiar with our own symptoms and take care of ourselves.
       Irritability and anger
       Nightmares and reoccurring thoughts about the event
       Sadness and depression
       Feeling powerless, frustration
       Changes in eating patterns, loss of appetite or overeating
       Crying for no apparent reason
       Headaches, back aches, and stomach problems
       Difficulty sleeping or falling asleep
       Anxiety over the future
       Disappointment and rejection of outside help
       Feelings of being overwhelmed
       Increased effects of colds, allergies, flu
       Isolating oneself
       Guilt that you couldn’t prevent it
       Domestic violence
       Increased drugs and alcohol
What to do
       First thing to remember is to take care of yourself
       Healthy eating
       Getting enough rest (which is a challenge with children) take shifts or sleep together
       Taking time for your self, do something you enjoy or just for you
       Avoid drugs or alcohol
       Decrease/quit smoking (best really to do this before the disaster)
       Recognize your own feelings – your not going mad or having a breakdown you survived a disaster and these are normal
       Take time to talk with an adult about your feelings (if spouse isn’t ready respect that and don’t be offended everyone has their own time table to deal with things)

Talking it out

Talking about the disaster is the biggest and best form of intervention and lucky for us, something that we can do as parents. It may seem like an easy thing to discuss now, but after the event has past it may be very difficult to talk about it. So how do you talk about the elephant in the room?
       Start by asking them what they know or have heard. Then you will have an understanding of their level of comprehension and be able to correct any inaccurate information.
       Clarify misunderstandings of risk and danger, and provide accurate information.
       Make age appropriate explanations – simple and direct
       Be honest in answers and information – don’t be afraid to say I don’t know
       Be prepared to have multiple conversation or to repeat explanations- it’s a way of asking for reassurance
       Validate their thoughts, feelings, concerns and reactions. Let them know that you think they are important. Let them know that how they feel is ok and normal and that they are not the only ones with those fears and emotions. This goes beyond words to an increase in hugs, expressions of appreciation, and praise.
       Maintain an open environment
       Be consistent and reassuring
       Don’t make unrealistic promises
       Remember they learn from your example including responses and conversations with other adults – so its not just in what your conversation with them that these things apply.
       Express your feelings as well to them – don’t overwhelm them, but remember it’s a conversation questions and answers should go both ways.
       Extend multiple invitations to talk (whether taken or not) - remember it may take time for them to open up and there may be new concerns, misconceptions, or fears that will arise as the recovery process continues.
       Listen! – listen for underlying fears and concerns so that you can address and remedy them
       Discuss preparedness plans – focus on what you can do now to be prepared rather than what you could have been doing or done better. Extend that conversation to what organizations and the community are doing now to keep everyone safe.
       Don’t confront their way of dealing with things – if they don’t want to talk fine. If your 5 year wants to play that’s cool. You can’t force a therapy session
       Emphasize their resilience – helping them see what they’ve done in the past to overcome stress and scary situations and how they can use them now. Direct them to other communities that have suffered similar disasters and how they have or are overcoming them
       Encourage them to express and talk about the disaster – let them express it how and when they like. They can use art, play, writing, journals, poetry, music – doesn’t matter as long as they have the opportunities to get it out. It is essential to health coping. If it’s a man made disaster (war included) they can write to other families affected, newspaper, or government officials.
       The best thing you can do is to be present, calm and honest. Remain calm and reassuring – be honest about the situation, what it means for your family, and them. But emphasize that you will clean up, rebuild, and eventually things will get back to normal and that those who love them are doing everything they can to protect them and keep them safe. Be honest about the consequences of the disaster and what they mean for your family.
       Don’t minimize they concerns.
       Discuss factual information before and after the disaster, be specific concerning your disaster.
       Find out what they’re fears and concerns are – being alone? Picture falling on them? Etc address each one and work together to overcome them. (be care not to try the throw you in the water till you learn to swim approach if it seems like a minor concern or fear)
       Responses differ and may not always be compatible within a family unit. Be aware and supportive and patient, if needed seek friends outside to discuss events while waiting for children or spouse to process and open up.
       Avoid rumination on the event and feeling by providing activities and diversions. Focus on the decisions and actions that can strengthen them and the family.

Family coping strategies

After a disaster family dynamics will change. Death, disabilities, separations, marital conflicts, increased divorce rates, conflicts between parents and children, and dependency are factors. How each member deals with the trauma will affect the other family members. There is a great deal that we can do to help each other cope with the trauma and to help prevent the increased conflicts and difficulties that can result from a disaster.
       Take care of ourselves – we are the parents
       Review emergency preparedness plans and kits, make adjustments and replace items used (along with your food storage). Continue drills. Let the kids help in all planning and preparation.
       Physical contact is important as it provides extra assurance of safety and security. Extra comfort and contact is necessary especially before bedtimes
       Minimize exposure to media, if they are exposed be present to explain and discuss images and facts
       Use social support systems – friends, family, churches, community organizations, other resources
       Continue to involve them with specific tasks in helping the family and community to recover. Allow them to help choose where and what they do. Do
       Do something positive as a family – help others, volunteer, write letters, or visit others. Service is one of the best medicines (be sure its safe and age appropriate)
       Laugh and take time to do something together as a family – replace fear with good memories
       Strengthen peer relationships and support- this is important for everyone in the family. Talking with friends and family will help everyone sort through emotions and problems that accompany disaster. Friends and family help to establish a feeling of safety and normalcy. Isolation only increases emotional distress and anxiety
       Return to school – the classroom should include discussions about the disaster an opportunities to express their feelings about it and gradually move back to regular schedule...
       Maintain daily schedules and routines (they are reassured through structure and familiarity. Continue celebrating birthdays and holidays, gatherings, and sports have extra meaning during stressful times.
       Use rituals (balloons, create a family memorial, decide a tradition to do on that date)
       Work with teachers, sitters, and day care providers. Parents need to be aware of classroom discussions and teachers need to be aware of children’s fears or concerns
       Be tolerant of irritability and short tempers
       Stay in touch with family and friends outside the area and within
       Accept help in the spirit in which it is offered
       Prayer is a great coping skill!
       Let them be kids
       Watch for physical symptoms of stress
       Set priorities and problem solve as a family, take it one step at a time. Even an ordinary work load under this kind of stress can be unbearable. Create a checklist of to do’s and allow a sense of accomplishment for each one.
Priorities should be
1)      basic needs: food, water, clothing, shelter
2)      physical safety and security
3)      safety and integrity of their family
4)      long term needs (jobs, homes, community)
These will help restore emotional balance and health. Here there is no separation between emotional and physical needs meet one, meet both.
       Relief of symptoms – (great distress) relaxation techniques, desensitization, restoring previous treatments for those with previous mental issues. Using or creating community rituals.

Vulnerability to coping difficulties

There are factors that could make you child or you more vulnerable to psychological difficulties in coping.
·         Exposure to actual event (threat to safety or thoughts they would die in a disaster)
·         Personal injury or loss (loved ones and belongings)
·         Level of parental support (maternal preoccupation with the trauma or separation from parent[s])
·         Dislocation or relocation
·         Level of physical destruction
·         Pre-existing risks (depression, anxiety, previous trauma)
·         Man-made disasters over natural
·         Mothers of young children up to 10 years

Severe Psychological Trauma

There are 3 main types of severe emotional trauma that can have a debilitating effect especially on children that we need to be watchful for and get immediate professional help for them.


PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – is a set of symptoms that can result from experiencing, witnessing, or participating in an overwhelmingly traumatic event.
       Regular trauma symptoms
       Persistent fears (particularly separation from parents)
       Repeated episodes of re-experiencing the trauma in play or nightmares (which may or may not include the disaster)
       Anticipating the disaster will happen again
       Emotional numbness
       Sleep disturbances
       Jumpiness and startling
       Behavior problems at home or school
       Preoccupation with the disaster
       Avoid reminders of the disaster
       Increased arousal symptoms (inability to concentrate and startle reactions)
       May increase risk of suicide and depression
       Develop emotional or physical symptoms that remind them of the event
       Sudden and extreme emotional reactions
       Worry about dying young
       Repetitive play in which themes or aspects of the trauma may occur.
A minority of victims are at risk of developing PTSD, and it often surfaces months or years after the event.
Continue to emphasis feelings of safety and get help. Women usually have a higher rate of PTSD.

Generalized anxiety disorder

       Persistent and excessive anxiety and worry (not just in relation to disaster and its consequences)- for children these concerns may be school competency, punctuality, overzealous approval seeking, perfectionist tendencies, conforming
       Difficult to control worry (interferes with functioning)
       Anxiety and worry associated with symptoms
·         Restlessness
·         Feeling on edge
·         Easily fatigued
·         Difficulty concentrating or mind goes blank
·         Irritability
·         Muscle tension
·         Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
·         Usually have depression symptoms as well
·         Can include physical symptoms
o   Cold clammy hands, dry mouth, nausea
o   Panic attacks (heart racing, difficulty breathing, intense fear and Panic)


       Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
       Decreased interest in activities or inability to enjoy previous favorites
       Persistent boredom, low-energy
       Isolation, poor communication
       Low self esteem and guilt
       Extreme sensitivity to rejection and failure
       Increased irritability, anger, hostility
       Difficulty with relationships
       Frequent physical complaints
       Frequent school absences or poor performance
       Poor concentration and memory
       Major eating and sleep changes
       Self-destructive behavior or thoughts or expressions of suicide
       Talk or efforts to run away
       Often occurs with PTSD
Symptoms may vary between home and school. She may not always be sad.

To these three areas of severe trauma continue to do what you were doing before those coping strategies are helping and will continue to help. I would also recommend healthy eating, exercise and service have added important if these are a concern as they are natural remedies (not eliminators).

Secondary Trauma

The primary source of emotional trauma is, of course the disaster itself. But the sources of tramatization do not end when the disaster is over (in a literal sense) and when the victims have been rescued. After the disaster comes the “second disaster” – the effects of the response to the disaster – dealing with the after math and recovery from the disaster

The 2 biggest secondary traumas are relocation and death of a loved one.


Relocation – forces people to deal with the consequences of the disaster constantly. Include loss of possessions is loss of privacy, independence, and familiarity, and increased uncertainty. These transfer to children. Family roles are disrupted and schedule- 2 important signals of stability and safety for children.
There are several factors that impact child's emotional well being when it comes to relocation.
1)      How parents and other family members react
2)      The duration
3)      Their natural coping style and emotional reactivity
4)      How well they can stay in touch with family and friends and familiar activities
There are things we can do to help them to adjust
       Provide opportunities for them to see family and friends
       Bring special personal items to where you are staying
       Daily routines – helps them to know what to expect
       Provide opportunities for the to share their feelings, concerns and fears
       Be sensitive to the disruption and responsive to their increased needs
       Remember each child’s different and their responses will vary even within a family

Loss of a Loved One

Children see death differently. Once again now is the time to talk about death with your child. This is a personal subject that has many views and religious significance. By talking about your families beliefs on the subject you can help lay a foundation for better understand should it occur. Remember that it is still a difficult concept to grasp for young children. Preschoolers typically see death as temporary and elementary school children often understand the concept but may believe that it won’t happen to them or any one they know. Remember children don’t just grieve the person but as a family. Imagine a table, if you take away a leg the entire table is affected and is unstable. This is how it is for children. It affects their entire world.

Natural Reactions to the death of a loved one can be:
       A belief that they may come back to life again
       Immediate grief
       Denial shock and confusion
       Anger – sometimes directed toward surviving members
       Inability to sleep
       Loss of appetite
       Physical complaints
       Loss of concentration
       Guilt – younger children may feel that they caused it and blame themselves
       Excessively boisterous play (can be a manifestation of anger)
       Withdrawal from friends
       Repeated imitation of the deceased, or a desire to join them
       Inventing games about dying

Coping with grief
Normal cycle of grief
  1. disbelief and denial
  2. numbness may occur and allow a slow realization and processing
  3. realization brings distress and feelings of missing them
  4. anger
  5. anxiety about living without them
  6. mourning
  7. gradual heal
This cycle can last for long periods and may come and go. Remember this is normal. Trauma can make this process more difficult – due to own injury’s, survivor guilt, personal trauma, loss of social support and familiar community. Memories may trigger the disaster as well as the deceased.

How to help
       Let them choose to attend the funeral. Don’t force them either way. Choices are important. This choice applies to whether to view the body as well. Use discretion as it can be graphic, however to take into consideration that it can be very healing. Those who see the body despite injuries have never regretted it.
       Encourage them to memorialize the deceased in special way- scrapbooks, prayers, stories, candle lighting
       Let them express their grief in their own way0 they may appear unaffected, preschoolers will have difficulty understanding. Ages 5 and up will grieve more like an adult. They will express it in play as well.
       Despite your personal grief it is important to be there for them – your absence can make things worse. Remember you need each other.
       Loved ones should spend as much time as possible with the child – allowing free expression
       Don’t force them to talk about their feelings. Let them know that you’re there, you love and will listen when they are ready
       Be honest and only offer details they can understand (medical descriptions too much)
       Allow them to express their fears concerning death and validate them
       Listen and offer simple expressions of sorrow and grief
       Maintain schedules and routines. Children don’t just grieve the person, but the changes to the environment and family or friends.
       Be patient – their grief will repeat itself as will your own. Be more conscious of reminders like birthdays, anniversaries, death dates, etc. Be sure you’re more available at those times and maybe create a special tradition to help cope, and morn on those occasions.

Resources for help include the Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families and there are numerous other similar organization exist around the country they can be found online at www.dougy.org (503)775-5683

Grief Avoidance Symptoms
Avoidance of grief can be unhealthy and lead to more severe problems. Be careful of signs of abnormal bereavement and get help if present.
Extended period of depression with lack of interest in daily activities and events
Inability to sleep, prolonged fear of being alone, loss of appetite
Acting younger for extended period of time
Excessively imitating the deceased
Repeated statements of wanting to join the dead person
Withdrawal from family and friends
Sharp decline in school performance or refusal to attend


Widowed women will have increased needs both emotional and temporally as their normal schedules, routines, and lifestyles change drastically. However women usually have a better social support network than men.
Remember that trauma makes basic jobs that you were able to accomplish easily much more stressful and difficult. Accept that you can’t handle what you were able to before hand, and gradually move toward old routine. Be sure to have in your 72 hour kit something that you find relaxing and enjoyable. Be sure to take the time to relax. As mothers we often get wrapped up in caring for everyone else and forget that if we burn out than we are unable to care for anyone.

Pregnancy and post partum

If first time pregnancy taking infant parenting classes or read a few books, seek a mentor. This is a daunting task for any first time parent lacking confidence in caring for a new born, which will only be magnified in a disaster. Pregnant women will have an increased risk of depression. It is even more important for you to take care of yourself. Exercise, healthy eating, and rest are even more important. Be sure to have a support network close by as post partum is a difficult time in and of itself, these normal symptoms will most likely be exaggerated. Familiarize yourself with normal postpartum symptoms – both emotional and physical. It is of greater importance to talk about how your feeling. Find if there is a family history of post-partum depression, as that will put you at greater risk. Higher risk of post-partum depression with trauma within a year of birth.
       A sense of disappointment in the birth or yourself
       A sense of disappointment in the baby
       A feeling of anticlimax
       A feeling of unimportance
       Frustration with lack of control
       Overwhelmed and overworked
       Feelings of inadequacy
       Doubt ability to nurture your child (especially with breastfeeding difficulties)
       Mourning old self
       Self-esteem and self-image issues
       Anxiety and panic attacks
       Relationship adjustments

What to do
       Drop the guilt, you’re doing fine there are no experts
       Accept help
       Use feeding times as rest times
       Healthy eating, avoid sugar, caffeine
       Cry as much as you like
       Laugh as much as possible (although it may hurt the first few weeks)
       Relaxation techniques
       Do something for yourself, any by yourself
       Do something as a couple
       Take care of yourself (hygiene and beauty)
       Get out of the house if possible (fresh air, sunshine, and vit D)
       Have a mentor mother or find other new moms
       Talk to your doctor/midwife
       Don’t be afraid to get help if needed                        
       Do what you can to help in relief efforts but be careful in what you do. Try focusing on giving comfort and emotional support to others rather than the usual clean up

Special Needs

Take note now of how they react to stress. Also note those things that usually help now to relieve their stress.
Take note of triggers – words, images, sounds, etc – that signal danger or disrupt their feelings security and safety.
Take note of their cues – their personal warning signals in response to triggers. (Ticks, facial expressions, withdrawal, quietness, irritability, fear or avoidance.

Those with foster children or children who have been adopted are going to need to be extra vigilant and supportive. They will be at higher risk from repeated trauma, separation from family, and possible psychological issues due to unresolved previous trauma or circumstances. As beware of increased fear and distrust toward you due to previous dealings with own family. Lastly be careful for family members looking for them. Reassure them that their child is fine and looked after and safe, but that they will not be released until the proper authority declares it. Returning back to their families in this situation puts them at higher risk because previous family habits will be compounded with the high stress and trauma of the circumstances. If you know children that may not be in foster care but you are aware of some difficulties at home, be watchful as well, due to likely increase in domestic violence at these times.

What to do
       Provide assurance, support and attention IMMEDIATELY. Missing a cue can cause things to escalate quickly
       If they lose control remove child to safe location, help them to calm down, and then discuss fears or situation
       Parents and teachers need to work together to compile this list and remedies as either could be the one there at the time of disaster. IEP meetings or reviews are a great time to go over this. What has worked in the past will have the best chance of working then.
       Prepare them for any and all changes rather than reacting to them.
       Discuss events in a familiar setting with familiar people.
       Provide choices to give them a sense of control.
       It may be necessary to protect or isolate them to minimize distractions and sources of agitation.
       Keep constant supervision.
       Deal with inappropriate behavior quickly, calmly and consistently – helps to reinforce the constants and that they can depend on their support network.
       Steps and explanations will need to be more concrete and consequences more immediate.
       Now is the time to work on self-regulation skills and strategies. But still remember a disaster means these skills will still be demonstrated at less proficiency then previously demonstrated due to highly unusual and stressful situation.

Specific disabilities
Autism: be sure to have a way to communicate before and after disaster. Changes in schedules and environment are going to cause great emotional and behavioral upset. Try to maintain as much of it as possible even in a new environment. Bring items for usual environment to help with cope. Use social stories to help them understand what has and is happening, allow them to create a storybook to help increase their understanding... they may repeat phrases that could further isolate them.  Do those things that you would do for other children of the same age or cognitive age.
Cognitive limitations: It may be difficult to know what they understand due to their communication skills and they may react like a younger child despite higher levels of understanding. They will react to the disaster more on the observations and reaction of others. Discussions need to be specific, concrete and basic; you may need to use pictures to explain. This will apply to disasters that have occurred far away as well as those close to them. Offer reassurance.
Learning disabilities: It varies greatly based upon the disability and its degree. Typically they are very literal so explain everything carefully. Be watchful of misinterpretations and correct quickly. Accurate information is of great importance. Use of pictures may be needed to explain clearly. They also struggle with time and space concepts and may get confused about the order of events and the whereabouts – a map may be helpful. These kids may need further support now and after a disaster with self regulation and social skills. They will have more difficulties with tolerating others reactions, anger, and communication.
Physical disabilities: Their understanding will not be as much an issue. They’re biggest concerns will be safety and mobility, this is where your emergency plan really help prepare them, therefore review them often, drills will be of greater importance to them and those who will be helping them. When entering unfamiliar territory this will need a clear and simple explanation and if needed physical descriptions as well so they feel safe.
            Vision: they will miss facial cues and verbal images. Provide lots of details explanations to reinforce what they have heard. Ask questions about what they know, it needs to be a conversation. Mobility and safety will be of greater concern to them after and additional practice and orientation maybe necessary.
            Hearing: They will not be able to keep up with the talking of adults, provide frequent explanations. Understand that they will be frustrated by inability to keep up, explain new terminology (why education is so valuable). Be concrete and simple, and check for understanding. Visuals maybe needed with explanations.
            Total communication: keep a signer close by. They need to know someone will be there to help them. Darkness and poor lighting are going to impact their ability to communicate, be sure to have a head lamp to keep hands free for communication. Assure them that they will be safe and inform them of each step and where they are or going.
Behavior: Increased risk of severe trauma problems. Their symptoms will be exaggerated. Suicidal history will put them at higher risk and will require professionally help quickly. Current behavior problems will become more extreme. Maintain schedules and routines. Be consistent and predictable as possible.