Helping Children Understand Earthquakes: A Guide for Parents on Talking about Natural Disasters

After the tragic news that major earthquakes struck central Turkey and northwest Syria on the morning of Monday 6th February 2023, your children might have questions. Here are some tips on how to help them understand natural disasters.

The quake, which measured magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale, has killed and injured thousands as buildings collapsed.

There’s been a call for international rescue experts to help find people in the rubble due to the earthquake’s effects.

Turkey is in one of the world’s most active zones for earthquakes due to its geological location. In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed after a powerful tremor shook the northwest of the country.

People gather in front of the rubble of a building that collapsed in the village of Azmarin, near the Turkish border, after the earthquakes.

What is an earthquake?

Earthquakes are a natural disaster and occur when the tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s surface crash into or brush past each other. It can cause the ground to shake and open up large cracks in the earth’s surface. They happen somewhere in the world every day. But most of them don’t cause any damage.

The severity of earthquakes is measured using the Richter scale. It is a system used to measure the strength or magnitude of an earthquake. It measures the amount of ground shaking and energy released from an earthquake.

What is a natural disaster?

A natural disaster is an event caused by nature that results in devastation. These include deaths, injuries, and damaged buildings. Examples include: hurricanes, floods, drought, forest fires, volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis.

Do we get earthquakes in the UK?

In the UK, earthquakes do occur, but they are so small, you most probably won’t even realise one has happened. The geology of much of the UK is pretty old – hundreds of millions of years – and it is riddled with ancient fault lines that were once very active but are virtually extinct now. That means there have been 39 small earthquakes recorded around the British Isles in the last 60 days, says the British Geological Survey, but they are hardly felt.

Experts say there is no reason to expect any increase in the strength of UK earthquakes over the coming decades.

Sky Kids – Natural disasters: why do they happen? video

Sky Kids FYI presenter, Declan, shows us in this video, different types of natural disasters, focusing on volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis; explaining what they are and why they happen.

How to talk to children when the news is scary

Written by First News Editor-in-Chief, Nicky Cox MBE, click here to read useful information and tips on how to discuss scary new stories with your children.

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