2017 is the Year of Climate Change and Health, a 12-month APHA-led initiative with monthly themes meant to raise awareness of and mobilize action on the health impacts of climate change. October is Vulnerable Populations month. In collaboration with our Year of Climate Change and Health Bronze Partner, the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center, we welcome health advocate Alison Grimes to discuss the health concerns that natural disasters pose to our children.
This has been a year of heartache, destruction and recovery for many. From a global perspective, countries like Zimbabwe, China, Peru, Afghanistan, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Colombia, Sierra Leone and South Asia have collectively lost citizens numbering in the thousands due to natural disasters. In the United States alone, there have been more than 50 separate weather, climate and flood disasters, which is above the 10-year average of 45.
Hailstorms, avalanches, monsoons, heavy rain and winds, landslides, mudslides, hurricanes and cyclones are each dangerous, and many across the US have experienced the unfortunate effects of at least one disaster in at least one way, shape or form. Those most impacted by these events, though, are our children.
Helping children cope
In addition to the physical harm natural disasters can cause, the mental health toll they can take, especially on children, must be addressed. Children experience trauma, and the level of trauma will depend on how the child experienced the disaster.