For children, sudden disasters like tornadoes can create intense anxiety and fear. This is particularly true if family members or friends were injured or died or if a child is separated from his or her family during the storm. A child’s distress may manifest itself in a variety of ways, including experiencing nightmares or fear of going to sleep, unusual outbursts or tantrums, or withdrawing and becoming more solitary.
There are several things parents and others who care for children can do to help alleviate the emotional consequences of trauma, including the following:
Be available and encourage older children to ask questions they may have, as well as sharing their thoughts and feelings with you and with one another. This helps reduce their confusion and anxiety related to the trauma. Respond to questions in terms they can comprehend. Reassure them repeatedly that you care about them and that you understand their fears and concerns. Spend extra time with little ones cuddling when possible, reassuring them and offering whatever possible playtime you can.
Keep regular schedules for activities such as eating, playing and going to bed to help restore a sense of security and normalcy, even if your family has been relocated to a shelter or other temporary housing.
Reduce the number of times children see the trauma on the news. Repeatedly watching broadcasts of the disaster can re-traumatize children.
Have a list of applies to children’s medication, familiar toys, blankets, games, books and even pillows.
Be sure that your pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations and have proof of the vaccinations on hand. Many shelters may require proof of vaccines. Make sure you have copies stored in a waterproof container with other supplies so you don’t forget to take them. Keep a collar with ID on your pet and have a leash on hand to control your pet.
Make sure you have a current photograph of your pet.
Keep a properly-sized pet carrier for each pet – carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
Plan your evacuation strategy and don’t forget your pet! Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm’s way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster. If you plan to shelter your pet, work it into your evacuation route planning.
Never leave a pet behind during an evacuation.
Pets brought to a animal shelter are required to have: A proper identification collar and rabies tag, proper identification on all belongings, a carrier or cage, a leash, an ample supply of food, water and food bowls, any necessary medications, specific care instructions and newspapers or trash bags for clean-up.
Pet shelters will be filled on first come, first served basis. Call ahead and determine availability.
If you do not need to evacuate, bring pets indoors well in advance of a storm – reassure them and remain calm.
Locating emergency animal shelters
Emergency pet shelter locations will be those designated by either the Capital Area | North Florida American Red Cross or the County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) as meeting the safety standards for humans and/or animals.