Another thing that helps many people feel less afraid is to take control and "prepare for the unexpected"...so the unexpected will seem less scary. A great way to do this is to come up with a disaster plan for your family -- a "to do" list for what needs to happen in case of an emergency.
- Contact your local American Red Cross chapter and find out what disasters are most likely to happen in your community. Ask how you would be warned and find out how to prepare for different types of disasters. Start by logging on to www.redcross.org for more information.
- Hold a family meeting to discuss the kinds of disasters that could occur. Explain how to prepare and respond. Practice what you discussed.
- Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated by disaster. Pick two meeting places:
1) A location a safe distance from your home in case of fire.
2) A place outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.
- Choose an out-of-state friend as a "check-in contact" for everyone to call.
- Post emergency telephone numbers (police, fire department, ambulance, etc.) by every phone.
- Make sure your parents know how and when to shut off water, gas and electricity at main switches. If they don't, make sure they learn!
- Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Test monthly and change the batteries two times each year.
- Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards.
- Learn first aid and CPR. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information and training.
- Meet with your neighbors. Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster. Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as elderly or disabled persons. Adults should come up with a childcare plan in case parents can't get home. Check out one of these great Web sites containing detailed disaster plans:
The Plane Truth
"If I was able to make a trip to Disney World, I wouldn't want to go because traveling on an airplane, I would be scared. I don't want to lose my life right now."
Before you say "forget it" to flying, here are some facts to take into consideration. If you've been to an airport lately, you know that security is tighter than ever. The long lines to check luggage, extra-early arrival time, random security checks and the presence of the National Guard are all evidence of our country's new and improved airport security system. In some cities, an air marshal is required to travel aboard certain flights.
Flying is actually a lot safer than most Americans think. In fact, it's still the safest mode of transportation. This means that you're safer in the air than inside a car! Remember that commercial airline crashes are still extremely rare.
Finally, while fear of flying is understandable, make sure it's not keeping you from some golden opportunities. For instance, if you have the chance to see your grandmother in California or take a family trip to the Grand Canyon, go for it! It's important to be cautious, sure...but it's more important to live your life. Consider this: Would you rather sit in your room bored or go on a fun vacation? If you find yourself avoiding activities that you used to enjoy, have a chat with a trusted adult and see what he or she can do to help.
Focus on the Positive
"It makes me scared when I think about September 11th because I start thinking, 'Who will die next?' It's just sad to think about stuff like that."
While you may always remember September 11th with sadness or anger, realize that good things happen - and will always happen -- every day, whether it's spending the day at an amusement park, celebrating a special birthday, having no school on your favorite holiday, reading a good book, or simply spending time with friends.
If you find yourself experiencing dark feelings about these events, don't let them take over. Focus on the positive things going on in your life. Did your crush smile at you today? Let yourself get psyched about it! Did you ace that test? Celebrate! Do you adore your friends? Get together for a fun outing. There's still lots of good in the world -- give yourself permission to be a part of it. Here are the cool things that happened to these kids recently:
"This summer I went to Australia and New Zealand for four weeks. I met a lot of new people and made lots of new friends. Also, I got to spend a week with my grandpa and reads lots of good books. I even got to go to the film premiere of 'Crocodile Hunter.'"
"I got my new Gamecube to play with my friends and I got more time to spend with my family this summer."
"Last year my little cousin Sydney was born. Also I learned how to surf, which was the best thing in the world."
"My grades were better than my brother's last year!"
"We got a winter vacation over the holidays last year and I was able to rest and have fun all the time. The holidays are one of the best times of the year when things make you happy, so I think it's probably a good thing to remember!"
Sometimes it's hard to get away from the doom and gloom on the news. In the next section, we learn how to manage Media Madness.