Children add a whole new element to preparing for and riding out a storm. Here are some tips for keeping your youngest family members safe and entertained if a storm hits:
<b>Before the storm</b>
Let kids help to shutter your home. Children should not handle hurricane panels, but they can hold tools and gloves, or make a game of counting out the wing nuts needed for each panel and delivering them when needed.
Have them pack a fun bag or backpack for the storm. They should include their favorite toy, games, a deck of cards and spoons, books, a flashlight, extra batteries, battery-powered phone chargers, favorite snacks, and paper with markers, crayons or colored pencils. Keep the bags close, so when the power goes out, entertainment is readily available.
Talk about the coming storm and make it a learning opportunity. Research online about what a hurricane is, storm effects and safety precautions, and show them how you have prepared. The more they know about the science of storms, the less likely they are to be afraid of them.
Put kids in charge of chores they can handle, such as clearing their toys from the back yard, washing all the laundry or cleaning all the dishes before a storm hits.
<b>During the storm</b>
Ride out the storm in a blanket fort to help kids feel safe and protected. Listening to the storm radio can help distract children from the noises outside if winds pick up and power goes out. Use flashlights to tell stories on the walls of your fort with shadow puppets. Read aloud to each other, or play card games that require concentration, such as spoons.
<b>After the storm</b>
Keep children inside until you have checked the outside of your home for dangers, such as downed power lines, flooding and debris.
Don’t use candles to light homes with children. Instead, get LED lanterns for each room with long battery lives.
Debris cleanup can be dangerous. Make it fun by allowing the kids to clean up a safe space, such as a fenced back yard, and awarding prizes for the most debris gathered. Be sure the kids wear work gloves or gardening gloves.
Set up an area with no-power-needed entertainment, such as coloring, board games, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, Lego kits, and pens and paper for letter writing.
Take advantage of the clear skies and fewer lights after a storm, and star-gaze with your family. Get books about stargazing to avoid using your phone’s battery.
Prepare for your kids to be outside for long periods if power is out. Stock up on rain boots, sunscreen and bug repellent before a storm, and take the kids on nature hikes to explore.