Red Cross Mental Health Experts Offer Tips To Help Children Cope With Tsunami Disaster

Mental health experts from the American Red Cross in Greater New York offer strategies to help parents to discuss the Tsunami disaster with their children and help manage their anxiety associated with this tragedy.

“We have all been affected by the overwhelming images of this tragedy,” said Lauren Ginsberg, LCSW, Director of Health and Mental Health Services at the American Red Cross in Greater New York (ARC/GNY). “But, some children may have difficulty in processing their feelings and will need adult guidance.”

The American Red Cross in Greater New York offers some of the following tips:

  • Limit or temporarily cease children’s exposure to the media. Young children can believe that events which are continuously re-broadcast are actually reoccurring.
  • Supervise their viewing, answer their questions honestly and in an age appropriate manner, and remind children that they have adults to care for them.
  • Help children feel a part of the relief efforts in an age appropriate manner by donating, volunteering, or participating in a fundraiser.
  • Encourage kids to make use of their support systems: talk with family, friends, neighbors, spiritual/religious community, and be comforted by the familiar — such as their pets and usual routines.
  • Help children to maintain proper sleep, exercise and nutrition habits. A sound body and a sound mind are inextricably linked.

The American Red Cross works with its worldwide partners in coordinated effort

The enormity of this disaster coupled with the complexity of working across two continents, a 3,000-mile swath from Indonesia to Somalia, means that the American Red Cross is working alongside the other Red Cross societies from around the world, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and international relief organizations like the United Nations World Food Program.

The American Red Cross role in responding to an international disaster is very different from our response to a disaster in the United States. We work in a coordinated manner with many global partners, taking into consideration how the American Red Cross can provide unique, specialized assistance in the areas where we can best help.

The immediate American Red Cross focus is on getting lifesaving help to millions affected by the tsunamis. This includes distributing culturally appropriate food like rice, canned fish and lentils to millions of people. Safe water and sanitation is a priority, and the American Red Cross will be rehabilitating water and sanitation systems to ensure that people have clean water and waste disposal systems.

In the near future, the American Red Cross will partner with health organizations to work in the crucial area of disease prevention, vaccinating and protecting millions against diseases like measles and polio, while also helping provide mental health support for those suffering emotional trauma. The American Red Cross will also help affected countries with prevention measures to reduce the loss of life and property from future natural disasters.

American Red Cross Issues Eight Critical Safety Tips To Help You Prepare For Cold Weather Snap

New York, NY, January 18, 2005… The American Red Cross in Greater New York urges New Yorkers to take basic precautions and to be informed about critical heating and safety tips that could save lives.

“New Yorkers can follow some simple steps to prepare now as the winter season begins,” states Margaret Kelley, director of Preparedness at the American Red Cross in Greater New York.

Tips to be prepared outdoors:

  • Dress appropriately before going outdoors. The air temperature does not have to be below freezing for someone to experience cold emergencies such as hypothermia and frostbite. Dress in layers – you can take off a layer if you get too warm. Wear gloves or mittens, and replace wet clothing immediately.
  • Drink hot cider, soup or broth, which warm you and give you nutrients and energy. Avoid beverages with alcohol or caffeine; they will make you more susceptible to cold-weather emergencies like hypothermia.
  • Recognize the symptoms of cold weather illnesses such as hypothermia and frostbite. Symptoms of hypothermia include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Warning signs of frostbite include gray, white or yellow skin discoloration. Both are serious; if any of these conditions are present, seek medical attention immediately.

Tips to be prepared at home:

  • Have extra blankets on hand.
  • Ensure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves, mittens, hat and water-resistant boots.
  • Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit containing:
    • First-aid kit and essential medications.
    • Battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries
    • Canned food and can opener.
    • Bottled water (at least one gallon of water per person per day to last at least 3 days).
    • Extra warm clothing, including boots, mittens and a hat.
    Know what to do if you lose your heat source:
    • If you loose your heating source, remain in one room and close the doors. Roll towels and place them at the base of the doors to prevent the loss of heat and the entrance of cold air. Cover windows with sheets or towels. Place rolled towels at the base of doors leading outside.
    • Wrap yourself in layers of blankets and take hot showers if hot water is available.
    • If your heat is not restored, call family, neighbors or friends to see if you can stay with them.

    Stay informed:

    • Watch and listen to local news reports to stay on top of the latest weather information.

    The American Red Cross helps people avoid, prepare for and respond to emergencies. We also help them rebuild their lives after an emergency. In addition to responding to major disasters like the events of September 11, the American Red Cross in Greater New York responds to an average of eight emergencies a day such as fires, water main breaks and building collapses. The Red Cross also offers a variety of health and safety courses on such subjects as First Aid and Adult and Child CPR.

American Red Cross in Greater New York

The American Red Cross in Greater New York (ARC/GNY) responded quickly to the devastating 3-alarm fire on 236 East 178th Street in the Bronx on Sunday which blazed through a 14 unit apartment building. Tragically, two New York City firefighters were killed.

Red Cross response included:

  • Temporary housing, food and other basic needs for 38 adults and 3 children. Clients continue to meet with Red Cross caseworkers for additional services where appropriate.
  • Trained disaster mental health staff helped families of the firefighters at St. Barnabas Hospital.
  • On Sunday ARC/GNY provided food for 90 victims and firefighters. Heater-meals and warm drinks were also provided. Nineteen blankets were also distributed.
  • Red Cross staff will provide comfort and assistance to mourners at the funerals of the firefighters.

The American Red Cross helps people avoid, prepare for and respond to emergencies. In addition to responding to major disasters like the events of September 11th, the American Red Cross in Greater New York responds to an average of eight emergencies a day such as blackouts, fires, water main breaks and building collapses. The Red Cross also offers a variety of health and safety courses on such subjects as First Aid and CPR.