Helping kids prep for hurricanes

Five easy ways to help your kids prepare for impending severe weather .

1. Be honest (but keep it simple)

Toddlers and preschoolers will likely have no idea what a hurricane is; older kids might have some experience with them but could probably use some help filling in the gaps. The key here is to be honest without dwelling on the scary parts. Sesame Street offers a fantastic series of videos that can serve as a jumping off point for conversation with little ones. If your tweens are too cool for Big Bird, check out websites like BrainPop or National Geographic Kids where they can get just enough info to understand what’s going on without scaring the pants off of them.

2. Make a plan–and practice it!

One good thing about hurricanes is that they’re slow movers; we aren’t likely to be surprised by them like we would be with fires or tornadoes. Just as you’ve (hopefully) done for fires and tornadoes, talk to your kids about what you’ll do if a hurricane comes through. Some questions to consider are:

  • Where will you go if you have to evacuate?
  • If evacuation isn’t likely, what’s the safest place in your house for your family to gather as the storm passes?
  • What will you do with pets?

It might be helpful for some kids to write a plan out (even include illustrations) just so they know it’s there should the time come. And once you’ve got your plan figured out, run through it every now and then so the kids are comfortable with it.

3. Build your prep kit together

Giving kids something to do makes them feel empowered; feeling empowered also makes them feel safe. So when it comes time to pull together your hurricane prep kit, make sure your kids are in on the action: let them choose their own flashlights, be sure to include some of their favorite snacks, whatever it takes to give them ownership of the process and help them feel involved.

4. Turn off the news

If a big storm is headed your way, there are plenty of ways for the adults in your house to stay up-to-date on weather conditions without having the Weather Channel on 24/7 (like, for example, the very same Internet you’re reading now). Give your kids a break from the constant loop of breaking trees, flooding streets, and meteorologists getting pummeled by waves. They know what’s coming, and they know what to do–just leave it at that and let them be.

5. Make a worry box

Patience Salgado suggested this in her own piece on hurricane prep for kids last fall, and it’s still a great idea. Part of the process of preparing your kids for a hurricane is helping them work through their fears. If you find your kids clamming up during regular conversation, put together a “Worry Box” for your family and encourage your kids to write (or draw) their fears on little slips of paper and drop them in the box. Sometimes just writing the fears out will be enough for the kids, but if it feels right, sit down as a family and read through the slips of paper together. That should help get the conversation going again, allow you to validate and (hopefully) ease your kids’ fears, and let them know you are going to do everything you can to keep them safe.

Photo by: Christian Johnstone

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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