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Preparing Kids for Hurricanes

Hurricanes can be scary — for grown-ups and kids alike. Kids learn how to respond to situations based on the behaviors and attitudes of those around them.

Here are some tips to help them — and you — be ready during hurricane season.

Talk About Hurricanes

Kids might be confused about what a hurricane is, so use simple age-appropriate descriptions of what to expect if one is coming your way. For a younger child, you might say, "A hurricane is a tropical storm with very strong winds and lots of rain, lightning, and thunder."

It's also important to tell kids that grown-ups will do their best to keep them safe.

Try to Remain Calm Yourself

Kids can easily sense the emotions of those around them. When a parent seems overly upset or worried, this can make a child's own fears or worries worse.

Let Kids Help With Pre-storm Preparations

Keeping them busy can help keep kids' minds off of their worries. Helping prepare in age-appropriate ways also can increase a child's sense of control over the situation.

To involve your kids:

  • Prepare a family disaster emergency kit. Kids can help collect canned goods and get flashlights ready.
  • Have your kids help bring outdoor items inside.
  • Discuss your family's disaster plan together. Will you need to evacuate — and what would that look like? Which grown-ups will do what? This will help kids know what to expect.

During the Storm

  • Let kids pick a few comfort items, nonelectronic games, and toys in case of power outages.
  • Try to keep as normal a routine as possible. This can help children feel calm and safe.
  • Encourage kids to talk about their feelings or thoughts about what's happening. Some kids might prefer not to talk right away — and that's OK too. Spend time together and let them know that you're there when they're ready.

After the Storm

  • Monitor media exposure. There can be "too much coverage" leading up to and especially after a hurricane hits. These images might be too much for young eyes and sensitive hearts.
  • Let children help with clean-up.
  • Pay attention to signs of stress, including nightmares, regressive behavior/acting younger than their age, and extra clinginess. These are common in children who've gone through a traumatic event. If you see any of these signs, talk to your doctor and know that trained counselors can help.
Date reviewed: September 2017

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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