Dealing with natural disasters
flood; fire; storms; emergency; plan; earthquake; cyclones;
Nature is wonderful but is sometimes frighteningly powerful and threatening.
Recently we have seen a lot about the powerful side of nature on the news. Earthquakes, freezing weather, blizzards, storms, cyclones, huge rains, floods and bushfires have all been happening around the world.
Many thousands of Australians have been affected by floods and bushfires. Many have lost their belongings and their homes. Some have died.
When the news can be scary
Looking at or listening to the news when there are natural disasters can be very scary for kids. You may be afraid that it will happen to you.
Here are some things you can do which may help.
- Find out about the disaster so that you can understand what is happening and where it is happening. You can ask adults or do some research yourself. Understanding more can be helpful. If it is happening a long way away you may be able to feel safer.
- Talk about your feelings and fears with people you trust. Just saying what you feel can make you feel better.
- Turn off the news. It isn't good for anyone to be looking at scary stuff all the time, even adults.
- You might talk with your family and friends to try and find some way you might help the people who are affected by the disaster.
What if you are involved in a disaster?
If you are involved in a natural disaster then remember that there are people around who can help.
- Your mum, dad or caregiver.
- Other members of your family.
- Police, firefighters and emergency services.
- Doctors, nurses and volunteers who are there to help you.
It's important that you do exactly as they say. They are trying to keep you safe.
Afterwards - what you can do
If you have been involved in a traumatic event then it is quite ok and normal for you to feel really upset, scared, not be able to stop thinking about it and even trying to change things in your mind.
You may even feel guilty if you have not been as affected or lost as much as other people you know.
You may feel that it's not fair, and keep asking yourself, "Why me" or "Why them?"
You need to talk about your feelings with someone you trust. This could be your parents, other family members, your doctor, school counsellor or teacher.
It is usual for people who have been through a trauma to go through a grieving process. Our topic on " Grief and loss " will tell you more about this and the way your feelings may change. It may take a while but eventually you will start to feel less distressed. It is very important that you keep doing what you normally do, such as going to school and spending times with friends.
Keeping yourself safe
While you cannot stop natural disasters from happening you may be able to keep yourself safer during them by knowing what to do in an emergency.
There are many topics in the Your safety part of this website which can give you ideas about coping with different situations.
These are a few general points to remember.
- Make sure that your family has an emergency action plan - like who to call, what to collect, where to go in case you need to get out of the house in a hurry.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers to call by the telephone or on the contacts list of mobile phones.
- Make sure that your home has a radio that runs on batteries and that the batteries are charged up. This is so that you are always able to hear the latest news and advice from emergency services if an emergency happens near you.
- Have a woollen blanket in the car boot which can be used for warmth or shelter.
- Make sure that there are large water containers in your home which can be filled and used for drinking water.
Dr Kim says
It is unsettling for everyone who is involved in, or sees the results of a natural disaster.
Weather warnings and Emergency warnings try to alert people to what is happening so that people can evacuate (get away from) that area.
'Emergency Alert' is a telephone warning system. In an emergency, messages are sent by the emergency services to all phones and mobiles in the area which is affected. Look at http://alert.sa.gov.au
When it is safe people can usually come back, clean up and start all over again either in their old place or they may choose to live somewhere entirely different.
You may know someone who has been through a disaster. Try to be kind. Listen if they want to talk but don't ask questions if they don't want to talk about it. They may want to just get on with their lives now and you can help them do that by being a good friend.
We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.