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#218866 - 03/12/11 08:54 PM kids and disasters
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
ok, changing gears a little bit... my kids have just realized that we live within a 10km range of two nuclear power plants, similar to the evacuation zone in Japan. a news report also just informed them that one of those plants is on a fault line. Though it's a pretty quiet fault on lake ontario, we did have a little quake (4/5ish) in the spring. it was pretty minor but the kids remember it and are now connecting the dots. in light of what's happening in Japan, they're asking about what would likely happen if a melt-down happened here.

our 7 year old is tuning in and out of the discussion, more interested in his plans for March break. the 20 year old, on the other hand, is becoming preoccupied.

what do we do? the tv has been turned off the news channel, and the teenager is being encouraged to turn her iphone and laptop to something other than the news. we've talked about the potential emergencies we could face. the area we live in is pretty safe in terms of natural disasters. we face snow/ice in the winter, heat emergencies in the summer. a train derailment or nuclear accident are our most likely bug-out scenarios. the kids are pretty in-tune with our bug-in plans and supplies. We're got a practiced plan for fire, so are using that as our starting point for this nuclear bug-out talk. We're re-packing our 72-hr family BOB, to help them feel more involved and empowered, and are planning an evac drill. I thought about taking them to the nuclear info centre too, to help ease their minds about how safe it really is.

any other ideas about how to help kids process something like - an actual world event and/or family prep - this without becoming overwhelmed by it?
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#218875 - 03/12/11 09:56 PM Re: kids and disasters [Re: bacpacjac]
Eric Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 09/09/06
Posts: 323
Loc: Iowa
I think Izzy is on the right track for the younger child. My 6 yr old daughter gets wound up over thunder storms and tornados and all I have found that works is a two part approach 1) don't worry about it Mom and Dad will keep you safe and 2) giving her a little control over things - here is our plan, here is your stuff, you know what to do. Of course that is also turning her into a serious flashlight collector (unintended side effect).

I don't have much for the older kid. If they are good at science and math I would encourage them to learn the numbers associated with this. Probabilities would help with perspective but most people have trouble grasping the math involved. The other set of numbers to look at would be learn about radiation levels - what is background level, what is safe, how much exposure from an airplane flight, how much from the coal fired plant in the next county etc.

Nuclear power and radiation have bad reps due to people not understanding the numbers involved. Not saying Nuclear power is perfect, but it is far from the bogey man that some make it out to be. Cars are far more dangerous than nuclear power. smile

-Eric
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You are never beaten until you admit it. - - General George S. Patton


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#218885 - 03/12/11 10:34 PM Re: kids and disasters [Re: bacpacjac]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
thanks guys! we're definitely letting them take the lead and are not proactively bringing up the discussion. we're only answering the 7 year old's questions, in simple, reassuring terms, bookmarked with "where we live is very safe", "everything will be ok" and "mom and dad will take care of you". we're not letting it be a focal point for the family, just making sure they know we're safe and prepared. my son does have adhd (i'm flattered that you remembered Izzy) so he got over it almost right away, just tunes in sometimes when his sister is talking about it. managing her impact on him is almost the biggest job.

on the upside, she's already put her psk and fak in her edc backpack again. wink
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#218893 - 03/12/11 11:08 PM Re: kids and disasters [Re: bacpacjac]
Art_in_FL Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
I know a lot of people with kids take forced moves and evacuations who simply explain that they are taking a vacation. If going out into the sticks, camping. The kids, if not burdened with the risk and tension, seem to like the change of setting. This stage seems to work for the first few days.

When the tension and danger, and forced nature, of the situation become palpable, and the vacation aspects pale, shifting the emphasis toward regularity and structure seems to help. One of the better ways of helping kids cope is to provide outlets for kids to express their fears and doubt. With young kids, and often people not so young, it is often helpful to have materials ready for them to draw what they feel.

The big bargain on drawing materials is a 3' wide roll of white butcher paper, colored pencils and crayons. Unlike markers, which often dry out in storage, these materials store pretty much indefinitely. You want to watch the maximum temperature on the wax crayons but up to 100F you are okay.

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#218898 - 03/12/11 11:22 PM Re: kids and disasters [Re: Art_in_FL]
kd7fqd Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/07/05
Posts: 359
Loc: Saratoga Springs,Utah,USA
Note to self add crayons to edc, and car kits
He: Not for the kids, they're for me
She: (rolls her eyes)


"Mr Bus driver jimmie took my crayons"
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EDC: Samsung Galaxy Note 2,DR PSK, Swiss Army Champ, Leatherman Blast
My Blog emergencybobs.wordpress.com


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#218902 - 03/12/11 11:52 PM Re: kids and disasters [Re: bacpacjac]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
LOL@ kd7fqd! Thanks for the tip Art. it's a great idea and one that i should use more often when something's bugging him. he's getting more expressive as he gets older but we all have trouble finding words sometimes.
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#218928 - 03/13/11 04:44 AM Re: kids and disasters [Re: bacpacjac]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
I'll give you my honest reply. But it might not be what you are expecting.

First, I totally agree on not overloading kids. I don't go out of my way to highlight things like the Japanese earthquake. But i will answer questions if they ask them. My 7 year old just plopped onto the couch tonight and asked me about the pictures coming in from Japan. I was honest with her, but without dramatizing things. I just told her that the country had gone through a very large earthquake and there was lots of damage. I gave it to her matter-of-fact. She watched for maybe 60 secs, then went off to play with her toys. She didn't dwell on it.

I don't intend to insulate my kids from this stuff. I just teach them that it's going on - so deal with it and move on. In my opinion the nice old world of yesterday is behind us. It's tostada. Our kids will grow up in a world where they see a lot more of this stuff. My goal is to try and teach them to have a positive mindset and to be survivors. They can still be happy.

other Pete

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#218929 - 03/13/11 04:46 AM Re: kids and disasters [Re: bacpacjac]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
I get the sense that you'd like to hide the complexity of a nuclear accident from your 7 year old, and I'm fine with that - what I'm not in line with is keeping the reality of how to respond in the event an accident occurs. Take a house fire as an example - do you have a plan for what happens if your kitchen catches fire? Have you taught your kids to get out of the house immediately, and assemble at a pre-designated place (the front yard or a neighbor's yard)? These are reasonable plans and precautions for a 7 year old. If they need to understand why they need to get out of a house on fire, explain that fire is very dangerous, it moves and gets much worse quickly, and tell them to be brave, stay or crawl low, and get OUT of the house right away.

Your local Fire Department should have lots of age appropriate instruction available to fill in the rough spots around my version and the local fire station should be happy to run an exercise for your kids or their classroom, but my point is for your 7 year old, treat a nuclear accident like a fire, which you want them to be able to relate to. Explain to them that nuclear accidents are extremely unlikely, but as we see in Japan, even the unlikely can happen, and we need to be ready. If we're ready, we can take the right action, and remain safe. The best plan for a nuclear accident is to stay in place until told to evacuate. Who will evacuate your 7 year old? Either you, a loved one, or possibly your child's school. Find out what the school's protocol is for nuclear accidents, and get involved. And assure your child that you will be there come hell or high water in any evacuation. You can make your next trip out of town a "practice evacuation", and take some of the mystery and potential anxiety out of the trip. But there's no need to keep this kind of thing from your kids.

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#218987 - 03/13/11 06:31 PM Re: kids and disasters [Re: Lono]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
Lono ... Very good point. Practical. I like that.

I am holding a drill tonight with my family on how to respond to a really violent earthquake. We will go over what to do, and where to go. This kind of response will be much harder - and scarier for the kids - if it happens in the middle of the night. So i agree with you 100% ... this drill must be practiced. I will have to set some kind of regular training with this drill, so the family doesn't forget it.

We will also need to revise our plan for meet-up points. If a big earthquake hits during the daytime, we are all in scattered locations and need to get together. We had a plan on how to do this, but since then we have moved houses and the kids have switched schools. So we need to revise that plan as well.

Thanks very much for the top about dealing with household fires. Our home does have a fire extuingisher, but I need to teach everyone how to use it. And we need to keep it more accessible than it is right now.

cheers,
other Pete

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#218992 - 03/13/11 06:55 PM Re: kids and disasters [Re: bacpacjac]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
you guys are bang on. we don't want to overload him and make him worried or preoccupied about all the bad things that might happen, but we don't want to insulate him either. he needs practical, real information, targeted to his 7 year old brain and emotions. in some ways we let him drive the conversation, (i.e, questions about what's happening around the world) but we're proactive about teaching him too. (i.e. fire safety) it's a fine balance.

yes, we do have a very specific plan for a household fire, and we do run drills regularly. we're using that plan, combined with our bug-in plan, to address the possibility of a nuclear accident.

he just changed schools, and though he's still in the same school district, this one is farther from one plant, more in the middle, so the evac plan may be different. both schools run nuclear evac drills twice a year, and fire drills monthly. the principle of his new school has promised me a copy of their nuke plan when school resumes after march break. by then, i'll hopefully have a new job and we can redraw our family plan.

i guess what i'm stuck on is finding a balance between informing and preparing him, and overloading him and making him overly worried.
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