It’s been years since Florida’s last severe hurricane. Children under the age of 12 who’ve grown up in Florida have had the privilege of never experiencing a deadly storm. Though we’ve all enjoyed this long streak of good luck, it may mean that our kids don’t fully understand the dangers a hurricane can pose. How can we make sure they’re prepared when the next storm finally hits?
What’s A Hurricane?
Though it’s important for kids to understand the seriousness of a hurricane, it’s also important to help them feel safe, and not scared, when a storm is on the way. They will look to you as their guardians and follow your lead. If you are worried and feel underprepared, so will they. The first step in making your child feel safe during a storm is to calmly explain with simple facts what a hurricane is. This is best done beforehand, not during a storm. Using age-appropriate illustrations can be a big help, but beware of showing pictures of a hurricane’s aftermath as this can worry a child unnecessarily.
It’s important to help your child feel that they are well-equipped to handle the unexpected. Including them in your hurricane preparation is an excellent way to do this. Let them help make a first-aid kit, or put away stocked-up supplies. Help them make their own hurricane emergency kit with bottled water, food, clothes, flashlight, and maybe a favorite toy for comfort. Making your child part of the preparation process not only helps them feel confident that they know what to do during a storm, but also helps them see that you have the situation under control and they have nothing to fear.
Having a plan of action in place before a hurricane warning is issued is a must. If you already have a plan, make your children aware of it by doing practice drills together. Since kids learn about real life by playing pretend, this can actually be a fun way of helping them feel confident they know what to do during a hurricane. If you don’t already have a plan, create one together. This can be a bonding experience, and when inclement weather strikes, your kids will have their practice experiences with you to help them feel safe and prepared.
Finally, in the unfortunate event that you and your children are not together when orders are given to take shelter or evacuate, your kids will need to know how to contact you or, if that’s not possible, where to find you. Help your children memorize your phone number and address, as well as the contact information of an out-of-town friend or relative who can be your central point of contact for reuniting after the storm.
Though we mentioned above, it’s worth stating again that the most important thing to remember when preparing children for a hurricane is not to frighten or worry them. Panic during a storm can only make a difficult situation more difficult. Helping your children practice and prepare can both ensure their safety and their peace of mind.
For tips on creating a hurricane plan for your family, see our next blog post, Hurricane Readiness: How To Create A Plan of Action For Your Family.