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Red Cross issues guidelines for coping with stress during recent traumatic events

The bombings in Boston, the plant explosion in Texas and the severe weather hitting area communities have forced people to confront a wide range of traumatic and stressful events during the last week. Incidents like these require everyone—not just those on the ground in the affected areas but also those watching media outlets in other places—to pay attention to their mental health and to take steps to positively manage stress.

“This is a very upsetting time for Americans, and it’s important for everyone to pay attention to what they’re thinking and feeling and to take care of themselves,” said Becky Hauserman, American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio Disaster Mental Health volunteer. “It’s especially important to take care of the children around you and to reassure them of their safety.” 

The American Red Cross has some simple steps everyone can take to help cope with the recent events:

  • Stay informed, but limit exposure to media coverage of the events. 
  • Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and get enough rest.
  • Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions such as anger, frustration and anxiety. 
  • Stay connected with your family and other support systems. Reach out and accept help from others.
  • Encourage children to express their feelings and thoughts. Reassure them about their safety. 
  • To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746. 

Children are especially at risk since they may become afraid that a disaster could affect them, or that they or someone in their family may be harmed. It is important to comfort children and talk to them in a calm manner. Their view of the world as a safe and predictable place is temporarily lost during emergency situations. How a parent or other adult reacts around children following a disaster can determine how quickly and completely they recover.

People can find more information on recovering after a disaster or emergency on redcross.org

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.

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