Living in South Florida means that hurricanes and other tropical disturbances are an inevitable part of life. Hurricanes are scary, and a hurricane for kids can be especially terrifying. Weather can be unpredictable and the aftermath of hurricanes can be devastating, but a few simple preparedness exercises will go a long way toward keeping families safe.
Here are a few simple steps families can take to protect children during hurricanes and hurricane information for kids in terms they can understand.
Before a Hurricane
Educate your family and discuss why hurricanes occur. Using simple words that even young children can understand, explain that a hurricane is a strong wind storm that forms over the ocean that causes heavy rain and wind. Answer their questions, and be sure to emphasize that their safety is top priority. Arming your children with age-appropriate hurricane information for kids will help them feel less afraid when the time comes.
Hurricane facts for kids you can share include terms like the following:
- Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.
- Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch: there is a possibility of experiencing tropical storm or hurricane conditions within 48 hours
- Hurricane: a tropical cyclone with max sustained winds of 74 mph or greater
- Tropical Storm: a tropical cyclone with max sustained surface winds ranging from 39 to 73 mph.
- Tropical Depression: a tropical cyclone with max surface winds of 38 mph or less.
Assess the risk
If you’re not sure, determine whether you live in an evacuation area and your flood zone. In many areas near the ocean, hurricane-grade impact windows are a required part of the building code. If your windows or hurricane shutters are out of date, take steps to minimize your risk. Also, be sure to learn your child’s school disaster plan and learn their procedures for evacuation.
As a family, review and practice your evacuation plan so that everyone is familiar with it. This will help you to leave quickly and safely in the event of a hurricane and will help children feel more comfortable with the idea.
Stock up on supplies
Before hurricane season begins on June 1, make sure to have ample food and bottled water supply, gasoline for generators if needed, batteries and a battery-powered radio. Each family member should also have a bag packed and ready to go for evacuation. Be sure to include a few changes of clothes, basic hygiene items, any medications necessary and a comfort item from home. Also include an In Case of Emergency (ICE) card with the child’s name, address and several emergency contacts, at least one of whom lives outside the impacted area.
During a Storm
Evacuate (if directed to do so)
If you are in a mandatory evacuation zone, or if you feel unsafe, you should leave. Be sure to review any evacuation routes to account for any road closures, flooded areas or dangerous bridges
Stay away from windows and doors as much as possible. Children often imitate adults, and even if you have hurricane-tested impact doors that can withstand winds up to 150 mph, children can get themselves into trouble when mirroring adult behavior unsafely. Don’t go outside until the storm has passed if at all possible.
Keep normal routines in place
Routines are soothing for children, so daily rituals like bedtime stories or dinner table discussions will be comforting for your child, even under unusual circumstances.
Model the behavior you’d like to see from your children
Kids pick up on our moods and cues, whether we’re aware of them or not. Stay calm and reassure your children that it’s okay to be sad, but that they are safe and that’s most important.
Keep TV and radio to a minimum
It’s not healthy for anyone to listen nonstop for hurricane and weather updates, but the news can be very scary for children.
After a Storm
Keep lines of communication open
Observe your child for any behavioral changes, such as changes in eating or sleeping habits. While their fears are valid, they may be out of proportion so listen to their concerns. If your child is behaving oddly or seems to be suffering emotionally after the fact, speak with a professional who can help them master coping skills.
At Ocean Impact, your family’s safety is our top priority. Our impact windows and doors are manufactured to withstand hurricane-force winds up to 175 mph. If you’re updating your hurricane preparedness plans and are interested in impact doors, contact us today for more info.