The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division recommends that parents and guardians DO NOT bring children into areas impacted by the wildfires.

  1. The debris and ash left over from the fires pose environmental and health risks to children who are more vulnerable to exposure.
  2. Re-entry visits without keiki can provide parents with an opportunity to grieve and process without worrying about the potential physical and emotional effects on keiki.
  3. Visiting alone first gives parents a chance to prepare their keiki for what they will see and what they might feel when they eventually see the property themselves.

The contents of this post are extracted from the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division’s “Re-Entry Visits & Mental Health: Advice for Families with Keiki“. Learn more about mental health at their website

How to Talk to Kids After a Disaster

  • Reassure them that they’re safe.
  • Tell them you are here for them and that they have somebody they can talk to if they need to.
  • Listen to them, let your kids ask you questions about anything they’re worried about, and answer those questions honestly and in age-appropriate ways. Show and share your emotions.
  • It is important to communicate that it’s normal to have emotions, as long as you avoid violent or scary reactions.

Common Reactions After a Disaster

  • Parents may notice things like: as you avoid violent or scary reactions.
  • Regressive behaviors Increased fears and worries
  • Increase in physical complaints Headaches, stomachaches, aches and pains)
  • Withdrawal, lack of interest in usual activities Irritability or aggression.

These generally diminish with time, but knowing that these reactions are likely can help you be prepared to help your child.

How to Help Kids Cope After a Disaster

  • Reassurance and making them feel safe is key.
  • Give them physical contact like hugs.
  • Talk to them and answer their questions honestly and in age-appropriate ways. Monitor the amount of media coverage they are exposed to. Be there with them when consuming media and answer any questions they may have about what they see or hear. Re-establish a daily routine.

Where to Get Help

Talk to your child’s pediatrician.

Check out online resources:


Visit a behavioral health specialist:

Lāhainā Comprehensive Health Center ʻĀkoakoa Place

(just below Lāhainā Civic Center)

Open 7 days a week 9:00 AM–4:00 PM


Learn more at