Storms and hurricanes are terrifying to most adults - but do you remember how they could paralyze you with fear as a child?
High winds, lashing rain, thunder and lighting: these are all scary for kids. Worse, the repercussions of bad weather, such as power outages and no fresh water, will affect vulnerable young people more quickly than healthy adults.
The good news is, there are ways to prepare for bad weather with your children and make sure that they remain safe in the aftermath, too.
It's easy to create a family disaster plan: simply follow these four steps.
Four Steps to Family Disaster Plan
Reduce the trauma of natural disasters and bad weather on your children by following these four tips.
1. Teach Your Child How to Call for Help in an Emergency
Younger children may not know how to call 911 so make sure you teach them how to do this.
Older children will know how to call for help but may also be in a position to provide first aid. If you think your child is old enough, teach them some basic first aid techniques, such as how to strap up a broken arm, to keep your family safe until help arrives.
2. Keep a Stock of Supplies - and Set Rules
Keep a disaster kit prepared in your basement or cupboard in your home. Get your children involved in putting the kit together, to reassure them that you're prepared for emergencies and natural disasters.
It should contain a stock of fresh water, first aid kit, non-perishable food and a can opener, batteries, cash, copies of important documents, matches, a spare cell phone and charger, and a toilet bucket safe in your basement or in a cupboard.
If your power or water is out after the storm, this will keep your children safe, fed, and less scared while the utilities problems are solved.
Make sure everyone knows where the disaster kit is, and that they are not to touch it unless there is a weather emergency. You don't want to need the kit only to find the snacks have gone!
3. Set Up a Plan if Your Child Is Away from Home
Hurricanes can hit at any time of day - including when your children are away from the family home. Whether your child is at school or at a social event, it's important that they know what to do if bad weather happens when they aren't at home.
Tell them to find the nearest adult they trust. If possible, and if the weather has not already hit the region, arrange to collect them and bring them home.
If your child must stay where they are away from home, make sure they know what to do during the storm and after the weather passes. This includes teaching them where to find safe spaces for shelter.
Make sure they have at least one other safe space, such as a neighbor or trusted friend, that they could get to if nobody can get hold of you.
4. Create an Evacuation Plan
Explain the difference between a non-evacuation event and an evacuation event to your child. For example, a storm would mean staying in a safe place in the home, but fire would involve evacuation.
Fire can be caused by natural disasters too, so it's important to show that a non-evacuation event can turn into an evacuation plan.
Arrange at least two evacuation points: one outside the home, and one further away - such as near to your child's school or your work - in case bad weather strikes when you aren't home.
Show your children what to do in both a non-evacuation and an evacuation event. They will feel more prepared if they know what they need to do, and this will reduce their fear.
Invest in Your Family's Safety with a Storm Shelter
The best thing you can do to protect your family is to include a storm shelter in your family disaster plan.
This is a secure and safe place designed to withstand natural disasters. They can be placed indoors to create a safe room, or outside.
Make sure your disaster is plan storm-proof: take a look at available shelters today.