LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When tackling family emergency preparation and reaction, experts and medical professionals recommend parents be honest, practical and age-appropriate. Helping children feel confident and prepared for “what if” manages and mitigates fear about disaster.

Parents should encourage older children and teens to ask questions if/when disaster strikes: how much they know, what they want to know, how they feel, if they can help. For younger children, pediatricians recommend offering simple explanations for damage caused by disasters and to reassure them that people are working to help (ie: a tree fell on a power line, so now the lights don’t work).

Allowing kids to feel sad, angry, frustrated afterward is normal and suggested but should be followed by talks about how to cope with and/or minimize the impact. HealthyChildren.org offers detailed guidelines for addressing disasters with children of all ages here.

Red Cross’ hands-on Pillowcase Project for ages 8-11 teaches children to manage stress in disaster by creating an escape plan should disaster strike.

Red Cross’ complete list of safety supplies can be found here.

For kids of all ages, focus on being prepared beforehand and helping afterward.

Jill Simonian is Author of The FAB Mom’s Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby and Parenting Lifestyle Contributor for CBS Los Angeles Wednesdays on News at 5pm and Friday mornings. Her personal blog is TheFabMom.com. Follow Jill on Twitter @jillsimonian and connect with her on Facebook.


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