Feed the Children, an international nonprofit known for its efforts to help eradicate childhood hunger, has launched an initiative to educate parents and children on preparing for the unexpected during a disaster. Through its work with school districts and community partners, Feed the Children provides tips to families as they create their plan and quickly mobilizes its resources to aid recovery efforts after a disaster strikes.
Feed the Children has provided disaster relief across the globe, assisting families during their time of need. During its response to large-scale disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the nonprofit distributed more than $15 million worth of food and supplies to affected regions. Its humanitarian efforts stretch internationally too - helping thousands of families in the hardest hit areas of the Philippines who were displaced during Typhoon Mangkhut. It is through this critical work that Feed the Children has developed disaster preparedness tips for children to help them plan ahead.
"We want to raise the awareness of the importance of creating a disaster plan with your family,” said John Ricketts, director of disaster services for Feed the Children and board chairman of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. "We want preparedness to begin with the child. If they can get the information at school, the parents will get the message too. It can help the family have an open dialogue about their safety and what to do during a natural disaster.”
Feed the Children’s top 5 tips are:
1) Create a plan with your family.
Whether it’s possible tornadoes, floods or crippling winter weather, families need to be prepared for the worst case scenario. When families are proactive in planning for possible disasters, it can help reduce chaos during the situation. Every plan should include evacuation routes, emergency numbers, shelter possibilities and a communication strategy.
2) Build a disaster kit.
A disaster kit may be different for each family. However, each kit should have basics items such as bottled water, non-perishable snacks, flashlights, batteries, sanitation items, important documents and first aid kits. For children, they may want to have extra school supplies to keep them busy, comfort items such as blankets and stuffed animals, and their favorite book.
3) Practice the plan.
When a family practices their disaster plan, it can help ease the mind of the child and the parent. Practicing evacuation routes, where to go for shelter and memorizing emergency numbers will help strengthen the family plan.
4) Stay informed.
Staying safe during a natural disaster is a family’s number one priority. To keep your family safe, you need to stay informed. When a major disaster is impending or has occurred, it is advised that everyone should have a reliable resource for emergency alerts, such as phone apps or an emergency radio with batteries. Checking social media may also help with finding shelters, best evacuation routes and accessing local damage.
5) Tackle storm anxiety head on.
Creating a plan is the first step in tackling potential storm anxiety. However, if a child is still left feeling anxious of the unknown, it’s best to talk it out as a family. Allowing a child to talk through their fears and concerns could help the parents adjust the plan to fit their needs. Education is key to helping children face the unknown.
In addition to simple safety tips for families, Feed the Children also provides children affected by disasters with Kid’s Disaster Packs. Each Kid’s Disaster Pack features hygiene items such as body wash, shampoo, tooth brush and tooth paste; safety items such as bandages and a flashlight; a plush toy, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, a spiral notebook and a coloring book called “The Comfort Quilt”.
The coloring book features more than a dozen illustrations for children to color while an adult reads the text, hopefully prompting conversation about the child’s thoughts and emotions. It also has blank pages for children to draw and express their own feelings. Each page can be cut apart, and the individual squares can be colored and posted as banners or reminders in the child’s temporary shelter.
The backpacks are designed to reach a child during their time of uncertainty, making sure each child has belongings that can reassure them, give comfort and provide hope for the future.
To learn more about the kids Kid’s Disaster Packs and Feed the Children’s disaster response efforts, visit http://www.feedthechildren.org/our-work/disaster-response/kids-disaster-pack.