California State PTA offers tips for helping children cope with the recent wildfires throughout the state:
- Reassure: Your children need to know that they will be safe and that things will get better.
- Spend More Time with Your Children: Your children need comfort and reassurance. Spending time with you and experiencing affection such as hugs and special time together are important.
- Keep an Open Dialogue: Listen to your child’s fears and concerns and provide accurate, age appropriate information.
- Maintain Routines: Try to keep a regular schedule for meals and bedtime. Routines are comforting and help provide a sense of normalcy for your child.
- Limit Media Exposure: News coverage of the disasters can cause anxiety and fear and be damaging to young children, causing them to relive the disaster.
- Model Healthy Ways of Coping: Your children will look to you for how they should feel and react. Try to remain calm and reassuring
AID FOR FAMILIES
Learn more about direct aid at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. More information on the federal Individual Disaster Assistance program is available online.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA, operates a 24-hour, 7 days a week, toll-free Disaster Distress Helpline providing access to counselors at the closest crisis center in their nationwide network at (800) 985-5990. There, staff provide immediate, confidential (multilingual) counseling, referrals and other needed support services.
Many of the surrounding areas are facing air quality issues. CDC has a fact sheet on the hazards of smoke from fire and precautions that should be taken. Access the fact sheet here.
Here are some additional resources on how to help your children cope in the aftermath of a natural disaster:
- Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event — Center for Disease Control
- Family Guide to Helping Families After a Fire — Sesame Street
- Parent Guidelines for Helping Children Impacted by Wildfires — National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Recovery After a Wildfire — National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Helping Children Cope — Department of Homeland Security
- Recovering from Wildfires — American Psychological Association
- Parent Guidelines for Crisis Response — American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress