Who am I?
I am the founder of this Volunteer Organisation and a Registered Nurse of 40 years currently working in a GP Clinic. Daily I am receiving information from “Northern NSW Primary Health Care”, (Information to Health Workers in General Practice Clinics). I am also researching and keeping up to date with the Medical Experts and Scientists in regard to COVID-19. This following information is based on that information.
PANDEMIC PLAN: Don’t Panic, Don’t be Complacent. Prepare, prepare, prepare…..

1. If you or your family become infected and have mild symptoms. Why? To prevent spreading it.
2. If you are one of the vulnerable and at risk of getting very sick: elderly, have Chronic Disease, are Immunocompromised, are of Aboriginal/Torres Strait background or a combination of these. Why? To avoid getting the Virus and needing Hospitalising. This group is not only the most vulnerable but may have to avoid public places for months.

INDIVIDUALS and FAMILIES: Stay Informed and get the facts.
The COVID-19 is here, our best hope is to slow its spread so that the Health Sector can cope with those that need hospitalisation and Intensive Care. We DO NOT want to become like ITALY. Most of us are likely to get the Virus over the next months and have minor illnesses. We need to protect the vulnerable against the Virus and have resources available for the usual urgent treatment required by the general public that occurs every day. It could be you or the family that need this assistance, so we need the beds available.
Google: NSW Health, Tweed Council Dashboard, Smart Traveller.
Podcast: Corona Cast.
Hygiene: Coughing/sneezing , etiquette frequent thorough hand washing, hand sanitisers when out and about. eg. before you handle and eat that food in the food court after you have just touched the toilet door handle. THINK.
Distancing: Avoid touching others and being in crowds. Keep at least 1.5 metres between others where possible. Avoid group travel and public transport. Air Conditioning and close contact spread bugs.
Increase your Immunity: Vitamin D & C. ( Scientific evidence supports this).
Avoid preventable secondary infections:
1. Fluvax NB: this will not prevent you getting every Influenza virus but may stop you getting a bad one, (Available mid to late April).

Pneumovax NB: free to over 65 and under 65’s who have Chronic Diseases or are Immunocompromised or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, (Booster for these groups after 5 years, available now through your GP). The Pneumovax does not protect against Viral Pneumonias or every Bacterial Pneumonia, however it is another level of protection for the vulnerable.
You want to avoid a Double Whammy and Secondary Infection. Remember after any Immunisation, your body takes two weeks to create Antibodies and fully protect against ONLY the organisms in the vaccine. So the sooner the better. COVID-19: Know the symptoms. (Fever over 37.8, Dry Cough, Sore Throat). Level of sickness varies from person to person. If you have symptoms a) Isolate at home, b) Ring your GP and follow advice. REMEMBER, some people are spreading the virus and have NO or VERY MILD symptoms. If you are positive for COVID-19. c) Follow medical advice. d) If asked to isolate at home, do so. Why? To protect the vulnerable in the community. e) If you have others living with you, they will likely also be infected or will become so. Therefore the whole family needs to isolate at home. Current recommendations are 14 days. Once you have had the virus, you are most likely Immune from getting it again (Because your body has created Antibodies).

Preparing for Self Isolation:

  • Two-three weeks of non perishable food.
  • Basic toiletries and cleaning products to last.
  • First-Aid kit and other Emergency equipment.
  • Extra medications that may be needed.

Remember: Some Supermarkets do home deliveries, as do Chemists.

KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOUR: Many in the community have no Internet or lack the skills to fully utilise it. An “At Risk” neighbour may be self isolating to protect themselves.
Phone, drop some groceries at their door, organise a delivery of food from the Supermarket.
Theres a lot we can do for each other with reduced physical contact as we live in the age of digital communication.
Talk to your manager about the Workplace Pandemic Plan. Create one and have regular staff meetings.
What is the policy about: Hygiene, sick leave, remote work if possible, surviving loss of income, protecting each other.
We all wish this wasn’t happening and it’s not yet tangible like the smoke haze we recently experienced. But it’s very real and having knowledge and a plan reduces anxiety.
Most of us will be OK. We all know someone who may not. Talk to them, help them understand and prepare to stay safe (by avoiding people).
We are a Community, lets behave like one.

Living with Prolonged Stress.

Managing prolonged stress during the Fire Season: Written by Karen Challand Registered Nurse.

The more prepared we are, the more we feel in control and
the less fear and anxiety we have.

Stay informed.
Put into place your “Bush Fire Survival Plan”. Know what you will do and if the decision is to evacuate, leave early.
Complete your Property Preparation, what to take if evacuating and a plan for your animals.

We are told this Fire Season could last for weeks or months. How do we cope?
When local fire activity is low, we prepare, stay informed and get on with living as normally as possible. This includes fun and relaxation. Normality will help reduce anxiety.
Constantly tuning in to fire activity that is not impacting on us or loved ones directly, can feed our anxiety and create inaction and indecision. While this may be manageable over a short period of time, prolonged anxiety and stress impacts mental health.
Action reduces stress. Distraction reduces stress.
Find what helps you recharge mentally and physically.
If you feel unable to cope, are constantly fearful, stressed or anxious, then contact your GP or one of the following organisations for professional help:
NSW Mental Health Help Line: 1800 011 511
Rural Adversity Mental Health (RAMHP):
Healthy Minds Counselling 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Mon to Friday: 1300 160 335
Mensline: 1300 789 978 Lifeline: 13 11 14 Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800 Kids Anxiety:
Fire Impact Victims: Connect to Wellbeing: 1300 160 339

When Bush Fire Alert levels change on an existing Fire or a new Fire is in your area, become vigilant and enact your plan.

If you have prepared as outlined above, you know what to do. Do not become indecisive.
Decisiveness reduces anxiety.

When you are satisfied that the fire in your area is downgraded to “ADVICE” and there is no immediate danger, stay up to date in case the situation changes.
Start living as normally as you can.

The Unfortunate New Normal.
The changing fire activity could see our lives being stressful one day and less so the next. As destabilising as this is, we need to find ways to manage this and adapt as changes occur.

When there is No Fire, Alert Level is “ADVICE” on a local fire, or smoke is from fires some distance away:
Live as normally as you can, when you can. Have some fun and reduce stress. Enjoy time with family and friends.
Enjoy some “self care”.
Accept help when offered.
Help others. This takes us out of ourselves and changes our focus.
Feeling part of a community with common goals helps build our confidence and resilience.

"Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once.  
Breathe. You're strong. You got this. Take it day by day."
Karen Salmansohn

Anxiety and Children

Talking to children about bushfire risk

  • Bushfires are a common feature of Australia’s landscape.  Messages regarding bushfire risk and preparation are increasingly  accessible from social media, television, radio, fire danger rating  signs, and general conversation.
  • Children can be affected by information regarding bushfire risk and they may become concerned about issues of safety.
  • Many children are inherently resilient and will benefit from being spoken to about bushfire risk and preparation.
  • Talking to children openly in a way that suits their age, while  also involving them in decisions and actions regarding bushfire  preparation, will help them to feel emotionally secure and to be more  confident during the bushfire season.

On this page:

  1. Concerns about talking to children about bushfire risk
  2. Children’s reactions to the risk of bushfire
  3. Talking to children about bushfire risk
  4. Other ways to help children cope with bushfire risk
  5. When to seek professional help in talking to children about bushfire risk
  6. Where to get help

The bushfire season can be stressful for those living in at-risk  communities. Bushfires are occurring with increasing frequency and  messages regarding the importance of bushfire preparation are a constant  reminder of the ongoing risk. It is important for adults to remain  aware and alert throughout bushfire season.

But what about children? How can adults talk to children about  bushfire risk and preparation without compromising their sense of safety  and security?

This fact sheet provides suggestions about how to talk to children about bushfire risk.

Concerns about talking to children about bushfire risk

It is common for parents and carers to find talking to their children  about bushfire risk difficult because they are not sure what to say.  Typical questions include:

  • Should the dangers of bushfires be acknowledged?
  • Should we talk about the possibility of losing our home or pets?
  • My child heard that some people were recently hurt in a bushfire. Should I explain that this can happen?
  • We drive past the fire danger rating sign each day on the way to  and from school and sometimes my children ask ‘what colour is it  today’? How do I explain this without scaring them?
  • Should I tell my child that bushfires cause me concern as well?

Given such questions and concerns, the section below provides suggestions about how to talk to children about bushfire risk.

Children’s reactions to the risk of bushfire

While some children will be affected negatively by exposure to  information about bushfire risk, this is not the case for all children.  It is important to remember that many children are resilient and have a  strong natural ability to adapt to challenging events.

However, signs that a child has been negatively affected by information about bushfire risk might include:

  • becoming more clingy towards a parent or carer – for example  wanting to be held more than usual, wanting to be with parents or  carers, asking about fire, seeking reassurance
  • changes to sleeping or eating patterns, or both
  • the emergence of new physical complaints – such as stomach ache or headache
  • changes in mood – such as being more easily irritable, or shutting down
  • appearing on edge and frightened – for example, being more easily startled, developing new fears or having nightmares.

If you (or one of your child’s carers) notice these or other changes  then it is important to ask the child what they are worried about. Talk  to them in a way that is open and appropriate to their age. Listen to  their questions and fears and show them that you understand.

Talking to children about bushfire risk

It is important that children are taught to respect, understand and  manage dangers in their lives, including bushfire risk. We do this when  we educate them about the dangers of traffic, snakes and strangers, and  bushfire risk can be treated in the same way.

Showing children how to protect themselves can be made a part of  their normal everyday lives, and does not usually result in fears. If  adults show confidence that children can be protected from these dangers  by plans and actions, children will feel confident too.

Below are seven guiding principles to use when talking to children about bushfire risk:

  1. Listen carefully to what they say. Children  will often talk about what they are thinking or how they are feeling (‘I  think something bad is going to happen’, ‘I am feeling scared’) without  necessarily connecting their feelings to a specific event. Listen  carefully to the child’s words to get an understanding of what is going  on in their mind.
  2. Ask questions. If you notice changes in a  child’s behaviour and you think this might be a reaction to bushfire  risk, ask them to describe what they are thinking or feeling. And if a  child asks a specific question (‘The sign is red today, that’s bad isn’t  it?’), answer their question, being reassuring but truthful. (Explain  to them that red means there is a risk of fire, but also help them  understand what you are doing to make sure everyone is safe.) Try to  find out what made them ask their question. This will help to identify  the source of concern, which may be different to their question.
  3. Use age-relevant language. Use language that is easy for children to understand.
  4. Identify unhelpful thoughts and feelings. When  talking to children about bushfire risk, help them to recognise  unhelpful thoughts and feelings and then teach them to use more helpful  alternatives. For example, instead of thinking ‘I think something bad is  going to happen’ you could encourage your child to think, ‘Because it  is going to be a hot day I am feeling a little scared, but mum and dad  have a plan to help us stay safe.’ Tell them what that plan is. For  example ‘The whole family is going to go and stay with grandma and  grandpa.’
  5. Remain positive and reassuring. It is important  that adults use positive and reassuring language when around children;  explain that a plan has been made to keep everyone safe and show them  how it will work. If they talk about bad things that have happened in  the past (such as Black Saturday) explain that you have learned from  that and will be prepared.
  6. Build resilience. Help children to grow in  self-confidence by talking to them about the various bushfire  preparation steps taken to ensure their safety.
  7. Manage your own reactions. Try to manage your  own stress reactions and to model good coping strategies to children.  (Relaxation techniques such as calm breathing – three seconds in through  the nose and three seconds out through the mouth – can help, and having  a bushfire plan in place will help to minimise stress because you are  prepared, and know what to do.)

By using these principles adults can safely talk to children about  the risks and dangers of bushfires. Talking to children about bushfire  risk will reduce the likelihood of distress during summer and will also  help children to build coping skills.

Other ways to help children cope with bushfire risk

In addition to talking to children about bushfire risk, parents and carers can also help children in the following ways:

  • Teach stress management techniques: Introduce them to stress or  anxiety management techniques such as calm breathing, or divert  attention away from emotionally challenging ideas by playing or focusing  on something else. Being close to someone who makes them feel safe can  also help to reduce a child’s stress.
  • Involve children in physical preparations: Include children in  preparing a bushfire plan. Give them specific, manageable,  age-appropriate tasks, and include them when rehearsing the plan. By  doing this children will learn that the decisions and actions are not  only being made for them but with them.
  • Normalise the threat of fire as one of the hazards of living in  Victoria: ‘We know about bushfires and have learned a lot.’ ‘We have  plans to keep ourselves and our pets safe.’

When to seek professional help in talking to children about bushfire risk

You might want to seek professional advice if:

  • your child is displaying any worrying signs that they have been  negatively affected by information about bushfire risk (listed earlier  in this fact sheet) and these reactions do not subside after you have  talked to them
  • you have concerns about whether your child is coping (or perhaps  if another person who cares for your child, such as a school or  kindergarten teacher, expresses concern)
  • you don’t understand your child’s reaction to bushfire risk
  • you feel that you are not coping.

Where to get help

Anxiety and Children, Dirt Girl

Videos by Dirt Girl – approx. 20 and 10 minutes.

How to talk to your kids about an emergency ❤️????❤️????❤️

How to talk to your kids about an emergency ❤️????❤️????❤️ABC Rural1 Million WomenAustralian Red CrossABC AustraliaCIFAL NewcastleCosta Georgiadis OfficialThe Climate CouncilNSW Rural Fire ServiceNSW RFS – Northern Rivers ZoneKinderling Kids RadioABC NewsABC North Coast ABC Mid North Coast ABC Central Coast ABC Central WestABC Radio Australia ABC Gold CoastKeep Australia BeautifulPlanet ArkKidspotGuardian AustraliaHuffington Post

Posted by dirtgirlworld on Sunday, November 10, 2019

How to talk to your kids about an emergency ❤️????❤️????❤️ABC Rural1 Million WomenAustralian Red CrossThe Climate Council NSW Rural Fire ServiceNSW RFS – Northern Rivers ZoneKinderling Kids RadioABC NewsABC North CoastABC Radio AustraliaInternational Composting Awareness Week AustraliaKidspotGuardian AustraliaHuffington Post Australia

Posted by dirtgirlworld on Sunday, November 10, 2019

We are living in a fire zone and have been on alert for months.  Tomorrow is a day we need to be prepared for. If you are living in a  fire zone too, I have written your kids a special letter.

Hi it’s dirtgirl here. 

 In dirtgirlworld today, like in so many places around Australia we are doing things to prepare for bushfire.
We have a drought in dirtgirlworld so it’s very very dry and hot here. Is it like that at your place too?
 I thought I’d share with you some ideas to keep us safe and calm if we are faced with a bushfire emergency.

 Living in the bush, Scrapboy, Costa the garden gnome and I have a very thorough fire plan to protect dirtgirlworld.

 Our gutters are cleared, we have raked and removed all the leaves  around dirtgirlworld, we have packed away all the garden tools and moved  the firewood and compost and mulch away from our houses.
We also  have a plan that we will follow to protect ourselves and our animal  friends.We know that the most important thing is being safe

When  there is an emergency, so much can happen at once and it can be scary. A  Bushfire is really noisy, it smells strongly of smoke , the world feels  very very hot and sometimes it can get very dark. Often there are  sparks and embers.

 Not being near a bushfire is the best idea but sometimes we are surprised by bushfire.
If that happens here’s some of my top tips for what to do in a bushfire emergency.
When it is an emergency… pop on your emergency goggles! and switch them  on! They aren’t real goggles …they are pretend …but they help me focus  on what to do to stay safe.

Remember who the emergency captain  is….that’s the  person in your family who is giving  the emergency   instructions . Sometimes it is more than one person. Look at them.   Listen to them  and act as calmly and as quickly as you can.

 We have chosen scrapboy as our fire captain this time. He knows our fire plan and I trust him.

 It’s good to be prepared.

 Fill your water bottle with water.

 Choose some snacks and  fruit 

 pick some fun stuff to play with later

 your fav teddy or small toy

 some clean undies and pjs and some clothes for tomorrow

 and a card with your contact details on it.

 Pop them all in a back pack

 Have a practice wearing it and crawling down low …or walking to the front of the house ….or running with it on.

 Your emergency goggles give you an energy boost to carry your backpack on your own.
If you have to evacuate your house…evacuate is an  emergency word for  quickly leaving your house or school….it’s time to stay calm and follow  instructions.

 It’s all about staying safe.

To keep calm, I talk to myself …I say

 ‘I can cope, we’ve got a plan, we know what to do, it’s just one step at a time’.

And I keep saying that to myself , it helps me to be calm to know we have a plan…I can say it as many times as I like.
However, I make sure I stop talking to myself to listen to my family fire captain and follow instructions.
And the other thing I do is that I slow myself down…I try and take slow breathes.

Want to give it a try?

if we have to evacuate, I make sure I have my own back pack, and we follow our plan to get to safety.

Being safe is the most important thing.

 Our things can be replaced, we can get new things,  being safe is what we need to remember.
I hope that none of you have to use any of these top tips but I am happier knowing we have had this chat.

Scrapboy, Costa the garden gnome and I, are sending you all our love as well as well as our top tips.

Be safe!

love from dirtgirl


I’ve also filmed two videos today for families today – links above.

Anxiety and Children

Bushfires can make kids scared and anxious: here are 5 steps to help them cope

More than 600 schools have been closed, and some damaged,  in recent days as bushfires rage across Queensland and New South Wales.  Some students have been urgently evacuated while in school. People have  lost homes and animals and are experiencing significant distress.

Research shows somewhere between 7% and 45% of children suffer depression after experiencing a natural  disaster. Children more at risk of depression include those who were  trapped during the event; experienced injury, fear, or bereavement;  witnessed injury or death; and had poor social support.

The  Victorian Education Department commissioned us after the 2009 Black  Saturday fires to train teachers in seven fire-affected regions in  methods to foster resilience in children.

Teachers told us their  students had experienced distressing emotions including high anxiety,  fear and even panic during the event. Comments from teachers included:

Their world had changed forever; they became more fearful.Some children were very frightened and for a long time stayed close to their parents.Many children became scared and anxious about worldwide issues.Their anxiety was triggered by the smell of smoke, a fire engine’s siren or a foggy day.

The  teachers we interviewed also noted children’s profound sense of loss  (of their homes, pets and livestock). Many students knew someone who had  lost a family member or friend.

One teacher said:

The fires opened students’ eyes to what a disaster is. Not just something you see on TV.

We trained teachers using our Bounce Back program – a research-based social and emotional learning program first published in 2003. Most children are resilient and will bounce back quickly. Only a small minority may be at risk of ongoing anxiety and there are ways to minimise that risk.

How to help kids cope now

Try to stay calm and reassuring. Children take cues from the adults in their lives. If adults show fear and nervousness, children tend to mirror these emotions.

Try  to focus on the small positives such as “we are all safe”. You can list  the things that haven’t changed, such as your children’s friends.  Reassure them other people such as family, friends, teachers and their  community will help and that life will return to normal.

Everyone  feels sad, anxious or upset when a bushfire burns near their home. By  helping your child name their feeling, you are helping them feel more in  control. Here are five steps to encourage your children to do this:

  1. take notice when your child is feeling sad, frightened, angry or upset
  2. encourage your child to talk about what’s troubling them, and listen and show you understand how they are feeling
  3. name the emotion in words your child can understand – are they “worried”, “scared”, “a bit frightened” or “sad”?
  4. help your child understand it’s normal to feel that strong emotion and help them to sit with their feelings
  5. finish  with a hopeful or optimistic statement they can do something to help  make things feel better. This may include something physical (such as  going for a walk or throwing a basketball through a hoop), something  that creates positive feelings (like playing with a pet or friend, or  drawing), or doing something kind or helpful for someone else.

Resilience is the capacity to bounce back after hardship.

To help your child bounce back, you can communicate that:

  • life is mainly good but now and then everyone has a difficult or unhappy time
  • although  things aren’t good now and it might take a while to improve, it’s  important to stay hopeful and expect things to get better
  • you  will feel better and have more ideas about what to do if you talk to  someone you trust about what’s worrying or upsetting you
  • unhelpful thinking (“our family will never get a nice home again”) isn’t necessarily true and makes you feel worse
  • helpful  thinking (“it might take a while to get our home back again but it will  happen”) makes you feel better because it is more accurate and helps  you work out what to do.

Coping after the event

Children with strong emotional support, such as from family and friends, are better able to cope with adversity.

Friendships  may be disrupted after bushfires because of family relocations. Helping  children connect via social media or phone with friends can reduce  their sense of isolation.

Getting children back to school and regular routines can be one of the best ways to help their resilience.

Teachers are encouraged to allow time for children to talk about the bushfires and their feelings about them during class.

The  teachers who participated in the Bounce Back program after Black  Saturday explicitly taught children the skills for being optimistic and  resilient – such as to challenge their unhelpful thinking and understand  everybody, not just you, experiences setbacks sometimes.

They also taught kids skills for regulating their emotions and everyday courage to face their fears.

They  used circle-time discussions of picture books and media stories to  allow them to talk about their own experiences in a safe way.

We  held focus groups with children of different ages in five of the primary  schools that used our Bounce Back program. The children told us they:  “know now what to do when something goes wrong”; “focus on more  positives”; “don’t think the worst now”; “know things change”; “have  learnt that sometimes you just have to put up with it”; and “now feel  it’s easier to get back up in bad times”.

While a disaster can be  challenging for children, a supportive home and school environment,  together with coping skills, can help children recover reasonably  quickly and get back to normal life.

Toni Noble, Adjunct Professor, Institute for Positive Psychology & Education, Australian Catholic University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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