Children, Storms, Hurricanes, and Natural Disasters

Parents should pay close attention to their own reaction to the stress of a storm since children will take their primary cues for how to behave and how to feel from their grownups in life.

Grown-ups should reassure children that although hurricanes are dangerous, they mostly hurt trees, signs, street lights and things left out in the yard. You can reassure a child that hurricanes usually do not hurt people nearly as much as they hurt trees and things.

Depending upon the child's age, you may decide to limit the amount of news you allow your child to watch. News is typically more for adults and usually more like PG-13 than G rated. Kids frequently will become overly worried when they watch the news. Parents can watch the news instead and tell their children the information they need to know.

Parents should always follow the typical safty advice and listen to the experts as to what to do inorder to keep your family safe. However, there are some parts of getting ready for a storm that a child may be able to be involved in and thereby get a sense of control in an otherwise uncontrolled situation. Children can help clean up the yard before the storm, help pack a bag for themselves in case they need to leave the house, they can help you create a safty room for the house and stock it with pillows, flashlights, and necessary items including a few toys.

Parents should make this process fun whenever it is possible to do so. Keeping a good sense of humor can go a long way to relieving anxiety. .

Parents can make things fun simply by changing small things like calling the safty room the Harry Potter Under The Stairs Room...

parents can tell kids stories from theire culture or religion that tell stories of people going through rough times but getting through them by doing the necessary steps and having faith.

parents can give their kids some items that will just be theirs. For instance a child typically would love to have their own flashlight for the storm.

Again remember your attitude will make all the difference. If you take a calm, responsible approach following all necessary safety guidelines, while keeping a good sense of humor and making things fun wherever possible and letting the kids take part in age appropriate tasks while limiting inappropriate exposure to unnecessary details like the news, you and you child will typically weather the storm much better. Remember, how we handle ourselves will make a difference as to how our child is affected by a storm, Hurricane, or Tornado.

Here are some ideas offered by F.E.M.A. for families.

Listen to a radio or television for weather updates and stay in touch with your neighbors about evacuation orders.

Plan a place to meet your family in case you are separated during a disaster. Choose a friend or relative out of state for your family members to call to say they are OK.

Assemble your disaster supplies kit. Store extra water now! Check to make sure you have enough food.

Storm shutters are the best protection for windows. If your house does not have them, help an adult board up windows with 5/8" marine plywood. Tape does NOT prevent windows from breaking!

Bring in outside furniture. An adult should remove roof antennas, if they can do so safely.

Help an adult shut off your utilities -- water, electricity and gas.

Make sure there is gas in the car and you are ready to evacuate immediately, if you are told to do so.

If you don’t need to evacuate, be sure to STAY INDOORS during a hurricane. You could be hit by flying objects. Don’t be fooled if there is a pause in the wind. It could be the eye of the storm, and the winds will come again.

Avoid using the phone except for an emergency so the phone lines can stay open for others. If you do evacuate, do NOT go back home until local officials say it is safe. Hurricanes can be very scary. If you are scared, be sure to talk to someone about it.

Many children and adults may experience unexpected anxiety, stress, or trauma related effects of a large storm. If this occurs you may want to seek professional help. A trained child therapist or adult therapists can make all the difference in treating this issue before it causes more problems for the child or adult.