These steps can help parents and children prepare when a hurricane is in the forecast — and mitigate damage when it arrives.
News of sudden disasters like hurricanes and the damage they cause are understandably upsetting for children, whether they are directly in a storm's path or not.
Being prepared for severe weather can give children a sense of security. Keep a bag packed with essentials — medication, boots, gloves, raincoats, clothing, a favorite toy, books. Other useful emergency supplies include drinking water, a seven-day supply of non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and a flashlight and radio with extra batteries. Have an emergency plan in place, and discuss it as a family.
Follow these guidelines to prepare your family for emergencies:
Maintain regular routines
Children thrive on the comfort of familiar routines. Whenever possible, keep regular schedules for eating, playing, sleeping. Make time for playful interactions and give kids lots of physical affection. Minimize exposure to news coverage that can be traumatic.
Talk to your children and reassure them that adults are working to keep them safe
Even children far from a storm's reach may be fearful and anxious. Talking about natural disasters and emergencies can be difficult for kids, whether they are personally affected or not. The American Psychiatric Association recommends that parents create an open and supportive environment where children can ask questions.
Assess what kids already know, use words and concepts they can understand and give honest answers and explanations. Be reassuring, but don't make unrealistic promises. Emergencies can't be wished away, but it's important to remind children that when something scary happens, people will be there to help.
Photo: A boy rides his bike along the shore in Nagua, Dominican Republic, as Hurricane Fiona passes through the country on Sept. 19, 2022. © UNICEF/UN0707870/Santelices/ AFP