Do Your Kids Know What to Do in a Hurricane?
Hurricane season spans from June through November, and if you live in (or travel to) a state where hurricanes frequently occur, it’s important to prepare your family for how to handle these storms. Taking the time to talk to your kids about the dangers of hurricanes, as well as developing a disaster plan, can go a long way in helping everyone feel confident in an emergency situation. With that in mind, here are seven topics to discuss with your kids to ready them for potential inclement weather:
Explain what hurricanes are and why they can be dangerous
The first step in being prepared is knowing what you’re preparing for. Hurricanes can be an abstract concept for kids—especially if they’ve never been exposed to one before. Taking time to go over what exactly a hurricane is and why they can be dangerous will help take some of the hype out of the storm. This will help your kids have a more realistic idea of what can potentially happen during a hurricane.
It’s important to explain that hurricanes are large storms that usually produce very high winds and heavy rain which can cause flooding and tornadoes. There’s no need to get overly technical, and we recommend doing your best to avoid using frightening language. Just do your best to put it in terms they can grasp!
Review the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning
This is especially important if you get your storm coverage from the TV, as news stations can sometimes make things sound scarier than they are. Make sure your kids understand the difference between a hurricane watch (hurricane conditions are possible), and a hurricane warning (hurricane conditions are expected).
Make an emergency/evacuation plan
Even in the most stressful situations, having a plan in place can help everyone feel more at ease. Let your kids know what your family’s plan is. Some good points to start with are:
- Establish a family meeting place.
- Go through different scenarios with them until they feel confident in a variety of situations, such as:
- What will your family do if a hurricane watch is issued? What if it’s a hurricane warning?
- What is the plan if a hurricane strikes while family members are away from home (at work/school/etc.)
- At what point would you evacuate and where would you go?
Keep up on any school and daycare hurricane plans and review them with your kids
If your kids are in school or daycare, it is especially important to review with them what the plan is should a hurricane occur while they’re away from home. Remind them that their safety is their teachers’ top priority in emergency situations.
Make sure teen drivers know alternate routes and road safety
Roads can flood and become impassable quickly in hurricane conditions. Make sure any drivers in your household are familiar with alternate routes and are comfortable using them. It’s also important to communicate to them that they should never, ever try to drive across a flooded road, no matter how shallow the water may seem.
Review flooding and tornado safety
This is important even if you’re not in the direct strike path of a hurricane, as hurricanes can cause tornadoes and flooding inland. Make sure your kids are aware of the basics of tornado and flooding safety, such as to go to the lower level of a building if there’s a tornado, to never walk or drive into flood waters, etc.
Take time to answer questions
It can be tempting to run through an emergency preparedness checklist with your kids just to get all of the information across to them, but taking extra time to answer any questions they may have will go a long way in helping them feel prepared.