Help kids handle stress of emergencies

ages-stages-kids-summer13When faced with emergency situations like a severe storm, children can feel the stress deeply and may react in different ways. Younger children may cry, whine or wet the bed in anxious situations. Older children may experience an intense fear of injury or separation anxiety. Other common reactions include a fear of the dark, physical pain and eating or sleeping problems.

The key to helping your children cope is simply by being there and making them feel safe. Keep in mind the following tips:
• Take your children’s fears seriously and tell them that it’s okay to be scared.
• Explain the events as best you can and acknowledge what’s frightening about what happened.
• Tell your kids what you think and feel. Doing so helps them feel less alone if they know that their feelings are similar to yours.
• Maintain familiar routines, like mealtimes and regular bedtime hours.
• While parents can play a huge role in helping children deal with anxiety, it may be helpful to talk to a professional such as a psychologist or social worker, who can help children understand and cope with their emotions. More information on emergency preparedness, including creating a family emergency plan, is available online at

Teach your kids emergency lessons
It’s important to make sure your child knows what to do in crisis or disaster. Here are some tips for you and your family from Public Safety Canada:
• Make sure your child knows the emergency exits from your home.
• Create a designated family meeting place in case of emergency.
• Assemble an emergency kit, and make sure your children know where it is. An emergency kit list is available at
• Give your children the names of out-of-town contacts and practice getting in touch with them.
• Teach your children how and when to call 911.
• Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector, smoke detector and fire extinguisher.
• Make sure everyone knows where to find the fire extinguisher.
• Familiarize yourself with your child’s school or daycare for their emergency policies. How will they reach you during an emergency? What authorization is needed to
release your child to someone other than yourself?
• Ensure the school/daycare has updated contact information for all parents, caregivers and designated pick-up persons.

By planning ahead, you and family will be better able
to cope when an emergency happens. You can create your
own emergency plan online and get more practical tips on
preparing for emergencies at