Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Booklet] Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do


Practical ways parents and others can help children in the days, weeks, and months after traumatic events.
From the US National Institute on Mental Health.
Tips are practical and some are arranged by age groups.
An excerpt from the booklet 

How Parents Can Help:

After violence or a disaster parents and family should:

  • Identify and address their own feelings — this will allow them to help others
  • Explain to children what happened
  • Let children know:
    • You love them
    • The event was not their fault
    • You will take care of them, but only if you can; be honest
    • It’s okay for them to feel upset
  • DO:
    • Allow children to cry
    • Allow sadness
    • Let children talk about feelings
    • Let them write about feelings
    • Let them draw pictures
  • DON’T:
    • Expect children to be brave or tough
    • Make children discuss the event before they are ready
    • Get angry if children show strong emotions
    • Get upset if they begin:
      • Bed-wetting
      • Acting out
      • Thumb-sucking
  • If children have trouble sleeping:
    • Give them extra attention
    • Let them sleep with a light on
    • Let them sleep in your room (for a short time)
  • Try to keep normal routines (such routines may not be normal for some children):
    • Bed-time stories
    • Eating dinner together
    • Watching TV together
    • Reading books, exercising, playing games
  • If you can’t keep normal routines, make new ones together
  • Help children feel in control:
    • Let them choose meals, if possible
    • Let them pick out clothes, if possible
    • Let them make some decisions for themselves, when possible.



January 15, 2013 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crowd Control (or Lack Thereof)

Ninety-five people died in a crush at a soccer match at Hillsborough stadium, in Sheffield, England, in 1989.

Ninety-five people died in a crush at a soccer match at Hillsborough stadium, in Sheffield, England, in 1989.


The New Yorker had a fascinating article by John Seabrook about crowd control, crowd deaths, and crowd psychology.  What I found most chilling was the description of what actually physically happens when you are in a dense crowd.

In fact, a crowd is most dangerous when density is greatest. The transition from fraternal smooshing to suffocating pressure—a “crowd crush”—often occurs almost imperceptibly; one doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late to escape. Something interrupts the flow of pedestrians[….]  At a certain point, you feel pressure on all sides of your body, and realize that you can’t raise your arms. You are pulled off your feet, and welded into a block of people. The crowd force squeezes the air out of your lungs, and you struggle to take another breath.

John Fruin, a retired research engineer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is one of the founders of crowd studies in the U.S. In a 1993 paper, “The Causes and Prevention of Crowd Disasters,” he wrote, “At occupancies of about 7 persons per square meter the crowd becomes almost a fluid mass. Shock waves can be propagated through the mass sufficient to lift people off of their feet and propel them distances of 3 m (10 ft) or more. People may be literally lifted out of their shoes, and have clothing torn off. Intense crowd pressures, exacerbated by anxiety, make it difficult to breathe.” Some people die standing up; others die in the pileup that follows a “crowd collapse,” when someone goes down, and more people fall over him. “Compressional asphyxia” is usually given as the cause of death in these circumstances.

Read the rest of this Sense of Science blog item at

August 15, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

Study Shows Sports Can Help Communities Recover From Disaster

From a 7 July 2011 Medical News Today article

Research from North Carolina State University shows that organized sports can be a powerful tool for helping to rebuild communities in the wake of disasters. The research focused specifically on the role of professional football in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

“Sports, and by extension sports media, can be a powerful force for good. It can bring people together. It can provide hope, even in the midst of great destruction,” says Dr. Ken Zagacki, co-author of a paper describing the research and a professor of communication at NC State. “But we have to be careful that we don’t use sports to gloss over real problems. We don’t want to ‘move on’ from tragedies like Katrina when real social problems remain.” …….

July 12, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

NLM Director’s Comments Transcript Rising Expectations for Emergency Response?: 04/18/2011

Picture of Dr. Lindberg

Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Excerpts from the transcript

Many Americans have unexpectedly high expectations regarding the responsiveness of local agencies to messages sent using Twitter, Facebook, or phone texting during a natural or human disaster, the American Red Cross’ vice president for public relations recently told a Disaster Information Outreach Symposium at NLM.

Laura Howe told about 200 attendees at the recent two-day meeting (and we quote), ‘most of the public now expects someone (a local response agency) is listening’ (end of quote) when persons seek emergency assistance during a major disaster, such as a flood or a toxic spill.

In a survey conducted by the Red Cross, Howe said about 75 percent of respondents expected help to arrive with an hour after a request for emergency assistance is posted to the Internet, or texted via a mobile device. She said 28 percent of the survey’s 1000 respondents expected help to arrive within 15 minutes.

Howe added the Red Cross was surprised by the great expectations of the survey respondents. Howe asked the symposium’s attendees if they perceived respondent expectations were realistic – especially during a disaster when emergency medical technicians, fire fighters, and police officers handle numerous assistance requests.

Howe said the Red Cross and other response agencies accidentally might have elevated public expectations when agencies initiated direct interactive communication with citizens via social media services, such as Facebook or Twitter. She explained an interactive relationship with a public health agency or institution and social media followers might be perceived as initiating a higher level of responsiveness.

Although Howe noted the Red Cross (in the U.S. and other nations) is not an emergency response agency, the Red Cross sometimes is contacted first (via text messages or social media) by impacted Americans (instead of calling ‘911’) during a natural or human disaster. A similar pattern is occurring in some other countries, she said….

In local and national emergencies during the past year, Howe added the Red Cross noticed sudden increases in the traffic on social media sites as persons reported deteriorating conditions within their residence or neighborhood. Howe asked and we quote: ‘where is the tipping point within social media (traffic) that impacts the delivery of neighborhood resources’ (end of quote)? Howe noted the Red Cross plus other response agencies need to better gauge how social media spikes suggest an appropriate level of response – in light of recent trends in social media use and higher public expectations.

In a related talk, Nicole Lurie, M.D., the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reinforced the need for improved tools or mechanisms to assess when social media traffic surges reveal a need for an immediate emergency response…..

….’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page explains preparing for disasters can reduce fear, anxiety and stress. The disaster preparation and recovery health topic page helps you anticipate emergency situations, such as explosions, floods, and volcanoes. Links to this information are available in the ‘overviews’ section of’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page.

A website from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (available in the ‘start here’ section of’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page) distinctively provides information about preparing for different types of natural disasters.

To find’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page, type ‘disaster preparation’ in the search box on’s home page, then, click on ‘disaster preparation and recovery (National Library of Medicine).’

We also recommend’s health topic pages on first aid and coping with disasters……

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. To learn more, please visit

Information at this site includes

“Safe and Well” Aids Communications in Disasters

From the American Red Cross Safe and Well Web Site:

“After a disaster, letting your family and friends know that you are safe and well can bring your loved ones great peace of mind. This website is designed to help make that communication easier.”

The Web site has options for
**listing oneself as safe and well
**searching for people who have registered themselves as safe and well.

August 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment


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