National Preparedness Month (September 2014)


In support of National Preparedness Monthsponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Securityto honor its Ready Campaign, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is offering disaster preparedness resources to enhance our nation's capacity to prepare for and respond to terrorism and disasters.

Disasters and terrorism can have devastating physical and psychological effects on children and families. Children and teenagers are at risk for stress reactions including sleep and eating disturbances, irritability, anger, headaches, and stomachaches. They may also have behavior problems at school, lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, avoid friends, or engage in dangerous or risky behaviors.

To significantly improve the emotional well-being of children and families after a disaster, many strategies can be put in place beforehand.  "Being prepared for terrorism and disasters reduces anxiety, and promotes confidence and resilience in children and families," says Alan Steinberg, PhD, associate director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.

The following materials are designed to help children, families, educators, and communities become more educated and prepared in the event of a disaster.

Page Contents

Featured NCTSN Resources

Building Community Resilience for Children and Families (2007) (PDF)
A guide for mental health and medical professionals with information about building community resilience, and about helping communities improve their capacity to respond effectively to disasters and acts of terrorism.  Includes a wealth of information, suggestions, and resources for businesses, cultural and faith-based groups and organizations, and first responders; and related information on health care, media, mental health, public health, and school and personal childcare settings.

Coping in Hard Times—Fact Sheet Series
Series discusses challenging financial circumstances and economic hardships that can negatively affect youth, families, and communities. Offers practical ways to address the challenges during economic hardships by improving a sense of safety, calming, self- and community efficacy, connectedness, and hope.

PFA Mobile™ App
A free download app designed to assist responders who provide psychological first aid (PFA) as part of an organized response effort to adults, families, and children. The app provides responders with:

  • Summaries of PFA fundamentals
  • PFA interventions matched to specific concerns and needs of survivors
  • Mentor tips for applying PFA in the field
  • A self-assessment tool for determining readiness to conduct PFA
  • A survivors' needs form for simplified data collection and easy referral

Available from iTunes, the app will work on any mobile Apple device (iPhone, IPad, and iPod touch).

The PFA Mobile App is a joint project  by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD in partnership with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Department of Defense's National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), and the VA’s Patient Care Services.

Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide (2nd Edition)
An evidence-informed modular approach for helping survivors of trauma. Designed to reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events, and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning and coping skills. Foreign language versions (Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and Norwegian) of the guide are available as well as adaptations for community religious professionals and for the Medical Reserve Corps. 

Psychological First Aid Online
A free six-hour interactive course in NCTSN's Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma.  Participants can play the role of a provider in a postdisaster scenario. Appropriate for both those new to disaster response and seasoned professionals.  Features activities, video demonstrations, and tips from trauma experts and survivors. This project was funded by the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the National Center for PTSD, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

Responding to Crisis in the Aftermath of Disasters
Sixteen educational vignettes demonstrating intervention strategies with children and adults in the aftermath of a terrorist or disaster event. Produced in partnership with the National Center for PTSD.

Back to Top

For Educators

American Red Cross

  • Masters of Disaster® Curriculum
    A series of lesson plans that help organizations educate youth about important disaster safety and preparedness. Contains "lessons, activities, and demonstrations on disaster-related topics that organizations to incorporate into daily or thematic programming. The curriculum is non-sequential, allowing organizers to choose the lesson plans that best fit into their programming." Materials meet national educational standards, and are targeted for lower elementary (grades K–2), upper elementary (grades 3–5), and middle school (grades 6–8).

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center
"Information and resources about emergency management to help schools, school districts, and institutions of higher education learn more about developing, implementing, and evaluating crisis plans."

Back to Top

For Families

Guidance on measures to keep your pets safe in the event of a disaster or emergency.  Includes a sticker that will let people know that pets are inside your home; and valuable information on how to arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation, emergency supplies and traveling kits, how to choose “designated caregivers,” and evacuation preparation.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

  • Flat Stanley and Flat Stella
    Flat Stanley and Flat Stella are characters that have been chosen as “ambassadors” in a campaign to promote disaster preparedness among children. Children and their parents can create their own FEMA Flat Stanley or Flat Stella, and then share with other children (individually or in classroom settings) the steps they have taken to support preparedness throughout their homes, schools, and communities.
    "National public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation." Advises individuals to: (1) create an emergency supply kit, (2) make a family emergency plan, and (3) become informed about the types of emergencies that could occur and appropriate ways to respond. Offers suggestions, materials, and resources for each.  The Let's Get Ready! materials are also available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Urdu, and Vietnamese.


Sesame Street

Back to Top

For Policy Makers

Resources, practical information, disaster maps, applications for assistance, links to related news & media archives, and much more.  "FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards."

National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB)

National Commission on Children and Disasters
Findings, recommendations, and resources on: mental health, child physical health, and trauma, emergency medical services and pediatric transport, disaster case management, child care and early education, elementary and secondary education, child welfare and juvenile justice, sheltering, housing,  evacuation and reunification, state and local government, and relevant activities in emergency management.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Back to Top

For Service Providers/Agencies

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Information on myriad emergencies and disasters, with preparedness, response, and planning  advice and resources for individuals, businesses, healthcare facilities, states, local communities, and the nation; along with legal information and more.


  • Ready Campaign
    Web tools and resources on emergency assistance. Encourages individuals and organizations “to join the National Preparedness Month coalition, and pledge their support to help prepare their families, businesses, and communities for emergencies of all kinds.” A partnership with Citizen Corps and the Ad Council.


  • Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC)
    "Supports SAMHSA's efforts to prepare States, Territories, Tribes and local entities to deliver effective mental health and substance abuse (behavioral health) response to disaster." Includes information and resources on disaster behavioral response planning, assistance, training, experts, tip sheets, publications, and much more.

Health Resources and Services Administraion (HRSA)

  • Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program: PEDPrepared
    PEDPrepared is a pediatric disaster clearinghouse of resources which targets health providers, emergency and community planners, and families. It compiles information from a variety of federal, state, and local government information sources and materials published by national health and disaster related organizations. Its primary purpose is to help communities achieve an optimal level of emergency readiness for children who are involved in an environmental, health, or man-made disaster.

Back to Top