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Red Cross Offers Resources to Help Children and Adults Cope with Tragedy
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Red Cross
April 18, 2007

Monday's events at the Virginia Tech campus represent a tragedy of monumental proportions. Over the next several days, there will undoubtedly be a great deal of national media coverage about this tragic event prompting young people to have questions that are difficult to answer or relay fears regarding their personal safety. Adults, including parents and caregivers may also experience their own reactions and be unsure about how to cope themselves.

This disaster may affect people differently depending on their personal connection to the event. Those affected may be:

  • People located in the Virginia area and directly impacted by the event.
  • People living outside the area with a connection to the community impacted by the event (family members, other university staff and students, Virginia Tech alumni, former employees).
  • The general public simply reacting to what they see and hear about the event through media coverage.

The following are educational materials and resources offered by the Red Cross to help people of all ages work through the emotional aspects of disaster that are relevant before, during and after a tragic event.

Masters of Disaster In the Aftermath
The lessons in this educator's resource are geared for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Anyone who works with children is encouraged to use the In the Aftermath lessons and activities to help students work through a broad range of questions, feelings and reactions following this tragic event. Please click below to download age-appropriate lessons on "Feelings and Reactions" and the "Mind-Body Connection" to answer questions like "Why do I feel this way?" "Has this happened before?" and ""How will we get through this?"

Feelings and Reactions Lesson Plans

Mind-Body Connection Lesson Plans

Maintaining a Healthy State of Mind
Everyone has thoughts, feelings, and reactions about an event after it happens. Information on the Preparedness Today Web site about "maintaining a healthy state of mind" provides information to adults, parents and caregivers and middle to high school students about what reactions to expect and how to help themselves and others cope with unexpected events. Using this resource can help you protect and prepare yourself emotionally for disasters and find additional emergency preparedness information.

Family Contact Plan
The events at Virginia Tech this week remind us of how important it is to prepare for unexpected events, as disasters of all types can happen with little or no warning.

A major part of preparing is having a Family Contact Plan with the following three components:

  • Set up a meeting to talk about the need to prepare for disasters and the types of disasters that could potentially happen including: home fires, school shootings/acts of terror, natural disasters common to your geographic region and public health disasters such as a flu pandemic or infectious disease emergency. Talk about what you would do in each case.
  • Pick two places to meet in the event of a disaster:
    • Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
    • A location outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.
  • Decide how you will contact each other during an emergency and share these plans now with all those who would be concerned about your welfare. There are several options for remaining in contact during an emergency:
    • Have an out-of-area family member or friend be your "family contact." Family members who are separated during a disaster call this person and tell them where they are. Include this phone number on an Emergency Contact Card that household members keep with them all the time.
    • Develop an email distribution list of family members and friends so you can quickly notify each other about your location and wellbeing during and after a disaster.
    • If you are directly impacted by a disaster, you can register yourself as "safe and well" on the Red Cross Safe and Well Web site at https://disastersafe.redcross.org. This Internet tool allows family members and friends who go to the Safe and Well Web site to view messages posted by loved ones who are in the disaster affected area and possibly unable to communicate any other way.

Preparing for the Unexpected
Information about how to prepare for unexpected events, including emergency communications planning, what to include in a disaster supplies kit, evacuation planning and knowing about school emergency plans and what to do in the event of a disaster, sheltering-in-place and first aid information.

Listen, Protect and Connect
This booklet from the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters provides steps for adults to talk with children during times of stress. This resource will guide you through listening to what your child says and does; helping them feel protected; and helping children connect with you and their community. By following these steps, you can interact with the children in your care to help them understand and cope in difficult situations.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

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