Shared with us by Emma Roberts

If you live in a coastal area that is prone to tropical storms and hurricanes, it’s imperative that you learn to quickly and efficiently respond when severe weather strikes. When you’re responsible for the health and safety of children, emergency preparedness becomes even more of a priority. In order to ensure that everyone in your household, including the youngest members of the family, are coached on proper hurricane preparation and are protected as much as possible, it’s wise to make sure that you’re familiar with the following concepts.
Explain What a Hurricane Is For younger children or those that have never experienced a hurricane first hand, it’s essential to help them understand what a hurricane is and why it’s important that they adhere to the safety guidelines you’ve put in place. Being under the misconception that a hurricane is just a high-powered thunderstorm could cause them to take the situation less seriously than they should, which could result in the children behaving recklessly or disregarding safety rules.

Be Honest Without Causing Alarm

To keep kids from behaving in an unsafe manner due to a fundamental misunderstanding about what a hurricane is, it’s very important that you’re honest and to the point when you discuss the matter with them. However, it’s neither wise nor necessary to phrase your explanations in a way that alarms them or causes them to become excessively afraid. Managing the natural fears that will accompany the worst part of the storm could be difficult enough for particularly sensitive children; adding to that anxiety with a needlessly frightening explanation will almost always be more harmful than helpful.

Talk About Evacuation Routes

Should your household be evacuated, it’s necessary for everyone in the family to be intimately acquainted with an agreed-upon evacuation route. This is especially important if you find yourselves separated, so that each member of the household knows where to go in order to be reunited.

Stock Up on Disaster Supplies

Living in an area that’s prone to hurricanes will require you to maintain a constant supply of survival supplies in the event of a disaster. Ideally, that kit will include enough non-perishable food and water to last the entire family for three to five days, a manual can opener, a battery-powered radio and a flashlight with an ample supply of batteries, as well as a well-stocked first aid kit.

Talk About When to Call 911

Kids should be coached long before an emergency occurs on the appropriate times to call emergency services. In the event of a catastrophic weather event, it’s important to avoid backing up the system with non-essential calls, but it’s equally as important to know when a situation is a legitimate emergency deserving of an emergency phone call. Explaining to kids when they should call 911 and how to proceed while on the phone with emergency services can mean the difference between surviving a storm as a whole family unit and a tragedy.

Work Out a Communication Plan

Cell phone towers, electricity and other modern forms of communication may be limited due to storm damage, so it’s essential that everyone in the family, including caregivers and extended family in the area, have an agreed-upon system for communication should you be separated. Designating a friend or family member who lives well outside the danger area for hurricane damage as a liaison for communicating and facilitating reunion is wise.

Teach Kids to Shut off Utilities

In some cases, you may be required to shut off utility lines that supply natural gas, water and other resources to your home. Though kids should not be forced to manage these tasks on their own when there’s a capable adult to carry them out, they should still be instructed regarding the proper procedure for doing so to prevent dangerous conditions if an adult is injured, unresponsive or separated from them. Make sure that you walk through the process of shutting these utilities off regularly, and that you educate the kids on the signs that indicate when doing so is necessary.

Explain the Importance of Resource Conservation

Preserving perishables during a storm can be difficult, especially if electricity service is suspended for an extended period of time. Knowing how to pack a refrigerator and freezer with ice to maintain a safe temperature, being aware that you should refrain from opening them unless it’s absolutely necessary, and acknowledging how important it is to conserve the resources in your survival kit are all essential things to teach even the youngest member of the family. The novelty of using flashlights, survival-kit food and battery-powered supplies can cause kids to be a bit wasteful of those resources, which could be disastrous if it takes longer to receive aid than you planned for.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, this is excellent advice to be prepared for the next natural disaster.  We know our friends in the Northeast are still reeling from the terrible devastation Sandy caused.   Hopefully, hurricane season is over for this year, but it pays to always be prepared and explain in detail how to be prepared, especially for children. Pat