Prepare Kansas

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Help Children Cope during Crisis

Children and adults experience and react differently in times of crisis. A K-State publication, written by Bradford Wiles and Elizabeth Kiss, both associate professors and extension specialists, includes information that can help communities recognize the negative effects that tough times have on the mental well-being of children. Read the full news release here.

A publication, titled Disasters: Children’s Responses and Helping Them Recover, is available online from the K-State Research and Extension bookstore. It is also available in Spanish.

Wiles and Kiss outline suggested ways parents can help children cope during hard times:

  • Reassure the child that you are still together and that you will be there to help as long as you can.
  • Return to pre-disaster routines to the extent possible, including bedtime, bath time, meal time and waking up times.
  • Make sure you are taking care of yourself. It can be difficult to take care of a child if you are not feeling well.
  • Talk with your child about your feelings.
  • Encourage children to draw, write or tell stories about their experiences. Talking about how the disaster or tough time has changed them can be beneficial.

The publication also includes signs to look for in children and how to emerge in a positive direction from times of crisis.

K-State Research and Extension has compiled numerous publications and other information to help people take care of themselves and others during times of crisis. See the complete list of resources online.

Local K-State Research and Extension agents are still on the job during this time of closures and confinement. They, too, are practicing social distancing. Email is the best way to reach them, but call forwarding and voicemail allow for closed local offices to be reached by phone as well (some responses could be delayed). To find out how to reach your local agents, visit the K-State Research and Extension county and district directory.

After a flood

September is National Preparedness Month. It is also our annual Prepare Kansas online challenge. Prepare Kansas 2019 will provide tips on keeping food safe in emergency situations. Kansans and anyone interested in planning ahead for emergencies can follow the K-State Research and Extension Facebook page and this blog at any time during September, pick up handy information and interact with K-State extension specialists and agents. No registration is required. Today’s post is written by Londa Nwadike, State Extension Consumer Food Safety Specialist for Kansas and Missouri.

After a flood has devastated your home or business, there are many things to be considered, one of which is food safety. Flood water should generally be considered as contaminated, as it is difficult to determine what it has contacted on its way to your property. Water from floods can be contaminated with sewage or animal waste, as well as heavy metals or other chemical industrial contaminants, all of which can be hazardous to human health if consumed.

If you are not sure if the food was directly exposed to flood waters or not, it is safer to throw out the food:  “If in doubt, throw it out”.  This KSU publication contains a more complete list, but in general, if any of the following food items are exposed (or even if potentially splashed with) flood waters, they must be thrown out, even if they would be cooked before consuming, as heavy metals and chemical contaminants are not removed by cooking:

  • Food items in your refrigerator and freezer
  • All foods in boxes, paper, foil or cloth, including cereal, juice, and powdered milk
  • Spices and seasonings
  • All home canned foods, since the area under the seal of the jars cannot be properly disinfected
  • Any food and drinks in containers with screw-caps, pull tops and crimped caps, including salad dressings
  • Flour, grain, sugar, coffee and other staples in canisters

All undamaged commercially prepared foods in metal cans and “retort pouches” (such as shelf stable juices) can be kept, but must be thoroughly washed and disinfected.  This KSU publication has detailed instructions on how to clean such cans and pouches for safety.

As with many situations, it is very important to wash your hands with clean water (not flood water) after your hands come into contact with flood water.  More information on handwashing is available in this blog post.

Kitchen utensils and pans exposed to flood waters must also be evaluated for safety.  All metal pans, ceramic dishes, and metal utensils (such as can openers) can be kept, but must be thoroughly washed and sanitized according to instructions available in this KSU publication.  Wooden and plastic utensils, baby nipples, pacifiers and any other porous items used with food must be thrown out since any contaminants present cannot be completely cleaned off.

Disasters happen. #BeReady #PrepareNow

If a natural disaster or other emergency strikes, are you prepared? During September, K-State Research and Extension challenges you to complete the activities below and help us to #PrepareKansas. Not sure how to get started? Each week we have blog posts with hints and helpful information related to completing the tasks!



Flood and Natural Disaster Resources from K-State Research and Extension

Spring 2019. A season likely to be remembered for precipitation, flooding and the constant possibility of severe weather. K-State Research and Extension has curated a group of natural disaster preparedness and response resources from K-State researchers, specialists and extension agents as well as from our colleagues from around the region, including specific tips for dealing with flooding. Access them here.


Source: K-State Research and Extension News Media Services Flickr Photostream,