Recently, the news has been full of stories about natural disasters. The images of devastation we've all seen in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico are distressing to say the least. For educators and parents looking to explain these types of events to their students or children, it's difficult to know where to start. In these situations, it helps to take a step back from the news and social media for a broader perspective. In this post, we’ll look at resources providing information about severe weather including: causes, prevention, accounts of survival, and some ways to think about recovery once the severe weather has passed.
Get the facts.
We often experience weather events as discrete, but they are actually cyclical, and the chain reactions can be followed and recognized. That’s how meteorologists make their forecasts. Below are some great websites explaining how to identify, follow, and interpret the clues nature leaves us.
- The National Weather Service’s Owlie Skywarn gives an overview of meteorology.
- PBS’s NOVA scienceNOW series includes videos and explanations of weather events, like hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis.
- National Geographic Kids has has a page about weather systems and phenomena as well as clear and concise pages about hurricanes and wildfires.
- Smokey the Bear has been a resource for understanding and educating about wildfires for half a century.
Expand your understanding.
Firsthand perspectives can often provide a better context and understanding of natural disasters, ranging from preparation (or lack thereof) to survival, and recovery. The Tales2go library includes many books on the subject as well as the popular, I Survived... series.
- Learn about storm science and politics
- Fictional stories of survival
- Series about natural disasters
Focus on the good.
Fred Rogers was famously quoted for recounting his mother’s advice to “always look for the helpers” in the aftermath of tragedy. Taking that advice is a great way to wrap up any conversation about or investigation of these catastrophes. Habitat for Humanity has a volunteer registry where you can sign up for more information about how to help as plans for rebuilding are solidified. Humans aren’t the only ones affected by natural disasters. Pets are displaced, need care and food also. The ASPCA has volunteer opportunities available across the United States.