Talking to kids about natural disasters

Wildfires, hurricanes, and other events can be upsetting to children. Here's how to help them deal.

When three-year-old August Collisson peeks outside the windows of his house in Los Angeles County, he can see that it’s raining. But it isn’t the puddle-jumping rain that he’s used to. It’s raining ash from a wildfire that’s been burning since March, 10 miles from his home.

Although August’s parents try to limit his exposure, they do have concerns of how he might be processing what he sees. “As we’re watching the news, people’s houses are burning down,” says his mother, Emily Collisson. “I don’t want him to see all that and be worried that it’s going to happen to us.”

Since the start of 2020, the American West has experienced intense wildfires that have destroyed nearly 5 million acres across California, Oregon, and other states. That’s in addition to a hurricane season that’s resulted in so many storms that the National Hurricane Center ran through the list of predetermined 2020 storm names and started using names from the Greek alphabet.

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