In California we are faced with fires that rip through the mountains and neighborhoods devouring anything in its path. We have grown accustomed to watching the helicopter scoop/suck up water from nearby parks and lakes as they rush to drop it on the thirsty fires. All this drama unfolds before us on TV or as an eyewitness.
As I write this the helicopters are still going back and forth. I have no clue where the destination is as this year we have no TV and the radio stations are not broadcasting much information. I have a phone number to call on the latest activities.
I do recognize that the TV does keep us informed and it is vital to have this information as a parent. However, the broadcasts show the fires repeatedly with the field reporters giving us the facts in a delivery that is anxiety producing. After a day of your child viewing this it can prevent them from sleeping at night and you may have more separation anxiety when school resumes.
Here are some suggestions on how to deal with the stress of fires or any disasters.
1. Have a plan and calmly follow the plan. Know what to take and what to leave behind.
2. Favorite blankies and favorite toys are just as important to your children as passports are to you, so don’t forget them.
3. Put the evacuation items in the car.
4. Use the phone to get up to the minute information to stay informed. The reverse phone calls actually work so don’t be afraid you will be deserted.
5. Spend time with your children watching videos or playing non-strenuous indoor games.
6. If one parent goes into work have them call a couple of times just to chat.
7. If the kids really want to see the news, let them see small doses maybe 10 minutes every few hours. Or if the planes and helicopters are flying overhead have them count the different kinds of planes/helicopters.
8. If you have restless teenagers and it is safe let them get together with friends for a couple of hours.
9. Some teens feel compelled to help. Help them gather cold drinks and donuts and take them to the firefighters parked up the street, or to the police who are in charge of working the barricades.
The more we practice modeling a calm environment our children will experience less anxiety.