Children and Young Adults

  • Little boy sitting in front of Red Cross emergency response vehicle

Youth Preparedness

The American Red Cross is committed to helping youth and young adults become better prepared for a disaster or emergency. We work closely with schools, scout groups, and youth-serving organizations to raise awareness of disaster risk and build resiliency among young people. Our age-appropriate preparedness materials and trainings educate youth with engaging activities and easy action steps.

The American Red Cross inaugural Youth Preparedness Week was January 20-24, 2014. Regions throughout the country engaged youth volunteers, partnered with local youth-serving organizations, provided preparedness messaging and training to youth and youth adults, and distributed preparedness materials in their communities. All regions that participated in the 2014 MLK, Jr. Day of Service integrated youth preparedness into their activities, including 1,639 youth volunteers canvassing 375 neighborhoods and distributing 144,657 fire safety and “make a plan” door hangers in English and Spanish.

To learn about free youth preparedness trainings and activities in your area, please contact your local Red Cross chapter.

To learn more about fee-based health and safety classes for youth offered by your local Red Cross chapter.

Reducing Fear in Uncertain Circumstances

Disasters often strike quickly and without warning. They are frightening for adults, and can be traumatic for children, especially if they don't know what to do.

During a disaster, your family may have to leave your home and depart from your daily routine. Children may become anxious, confused, or frightened. It is important to give children guidance that will help them reduce their fears.

Children and Their Response to Disaster

Children depend on daily routines. They wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, play with friends. When emergencies or disasters interrupt this routine, many children may become anxious.

In a disaster, they'll look to you and other adults for help. How you react to an emergency gives them clues on how to act. If you react with alarm, your child may become more scared. They see your fear as proof that the danger is real. If you seem overcome with a sense of loss, your child may feel their losses more strongly.

Children's fears may also arise from their imagination, and you should take these feelings seriously. A child who feels afraid is afraid. Your words and actions can provide reassurance. When talking with your child, be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable.

Feelings of fear are healthy and natural for both adults and children. But as an adult, you need to keep control of the situation. When you're sure that danger has passed, concentrate on your child's emotional needs by asking the child what's uppermost in his or her mind. Having children participate in the family's recovery activities will help them feel that their life will soon return to "normal." Your response during this time may have a lasting impact.