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.
- Natural Disasters: How Families Can Help
- Childhood Stress
- Helping Kids Handle Worry
- How to Talk to Your Child About the News
- Normal Childhood Fears
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)