You've heard the word "disaster," but what exactly does it mean? Your mom may have
called your room a disaster ("clean it up!"), but a real disaster is serious.
There are natural disasters, such as a hurricane, earthquake,
tornado, or tsunami (a big surge of water from the ocean), that happen because of
the weather or other natural conditions. People also can cause disasters, like causing
an oil spill that pollutes the environment or starting a forest fire.
You might wonder: What if that happened in my town? Depending on where a person
lives, some kinds of natural disasters are more likely to happen than in other places.
For instance, hurricanes happen in areas along coasts.
Wherever you live, it's good to be prepared for an emergency. You've probably already
experienced something like this — maybe the power went out for a long time or
there was a big snowstorm.
Families can take simple steps to be prepared for an emergency, like having a battery-powered
radio, flashlights, bottled water, and extra food on hand.
Knowing your family has a plan can help you feel more safe and secure. Grownups
are in charge of these plans, but you can ask your parents if they have a plan and
an emergency kit.
Some preparations are the same for everyone (flashlights, etc.), but other plans
will be different depending on which kind of problem might affect your area. For instance,
if you live where there are tornadoes sometimes, the plan means knowing to listen
to the radio for tornado warnings and to go to the safest part of the house until
If your family wants to know more about being prepared, organizations like the
American Red Cross can help.
In a bad storm or serious disaster, it's important to remember that lots of people
are looking out for you, including parents, police officers, firefighters, doctors,
nurses, and other people who are trained to handle emergencies. When a disaster happens,
you'll see these people on the news helping people.
What You Can Do
Seeing that people in a disaster are being taken care of can make us feel a little
better. But what else could you do if you're feeling worried, upset, or just curious?
Here are some ideas:
Talk about your feelings.
It's good to share what you're feeling with a parent or another trusted adult.
It's OK to ask questions and wonder about why this happened. It's also OK to feel
sad, even if you don't live near where the disaster happened. Get a few extra hugs
from your mom or dad too.
It may sound funny, but drawing a picture or writing a poem can be helpful in sad
times. Why? Because you get to express how you're feeling.
Limit radio, Internet, and TV reports.
It can be hard to avoid news about what's happening. But too much of it isn't good
for kids or grownups. Remind your mom and dad about this too.
What can you do instead? Anything that makes you feel good — go outside,
read a book, make a craft.
It's a great idea to find a way to get involved. Not only will you help people
who need food, clothes, and shelter, but you'll feel better because you're lending
You might raise money or gather supplies through your church or school, or by giving
to a disaster relief organization, such as: [Please note: By clicking on these
links, you will be leaving our site.]