Children are not small adults. They have special needs based on their physiologic, anatomic, developmental and cognitive attributes, all of which put them at increased risk during a disaster or terrorist event. Some of their unique vulnerabilities in a disaster event include:

  • Developmental and cognitive levels may impede their ability to escape danger;
  • Age and cognitive development may not be sufficiently developed to convey medical history or other pertinent information if they become separated from their parents;
  • Weight appropriate medications as well as appropriately sized equipment and supplies are essential in order to effectively treat children;
  • Children with chronic conditions and special health-care needs are particularly at risk if their survival depends upon medications or medical technology, such as ventilators
  • Less blood and fluid reserves increases their risk for dehydration and shock
  • Higher respiratory rates put children at risk for greater exposure to aerosolized agents
  • More permeable skin and larger skin surface to mass ratio increases their exposure risk to some biological and chemical agents; this also increases their risk for hypothermia
  • Increased vulnerability to radiation exposure requires a more vigorous medical response than adults

Cited from the Illinois Emergency Medical System for Children Program.

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A Decade After Katrina, Children Remain Vulnerable in Disaster Response. According to a report released by Save the Children in July, nearly four in five of the recommendations made by a national commission on children in disasters have not been adopted- nearly 10 years after Hurricane Katrina. D. R. Superville, Education Week, July 15, 2015
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