It is important to remain in safe conditions at all times during the hurricane, but what can you do to keep the kids busy and not scared? Here are a few ideas of things to do to help pass the time during Hurricane Sandy. Have fun and be safe!
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Tip 1: Inspire a Young Journalist
Give your child a pad of paper and a pencil and have her document everything you are doing to prepare for the hurricane or other storm type. At the top of the page, have your child record the name of the storm and the date, then encourage her to make journal entries that record the time and details about her current surroundings. One of the scariest feelings for a child during a hurricane is that things are spinning out of control. Writing down his or her observations during the storm helps your child overcome feelings of helplessness and will also provide an interesting record of events for the future.
Tip 2: Enlist a Little Helper
Based on your child’s age, you may be able to assign him a task or two to help him or her feel more in charge of the situation. Something that doesn’t require a lot of supervision from you would be ideal; such as, testing all of the flashlights and replacing batteries as needed, putting together snack bags for family members, or even occupying younger children while you are working on preparations. Giving your child some responsibility will make them feel more secure and help reduce their anxiety about the chaotic nature of the storm.
Tip 3: Satisfy a Thirst for Knowledge
As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power.” Help your child fight the fear of the unknown by providing him with some reading material on hurricanes. Obviously, you should stick to age-appropriate texts that your child will be able to understand and enjoy. Hurricanes, a book by Seymour Simon, contains vivid photographs and is recommended for 3-4th graders. The Magic School Bus series has a book entitled The Magic School Bus Inside A Hurricane, by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen. This volume is appropriate from 1st -3rd graders and blends whimsical storytelling with educational content. If the electricity is still on, kids can access the FEMA for Kids Web siteto track current storms and learn about hurricanes in history. Whatever hurricane book or resource you choose, the idea here is to select a text to educate and entertain your child, not frighten or worry him.
Tip 4: Ease the Anxiety of an Evacuation
If local authorities evacuate your area, anxiety is sure to run high among all members of your family. At this point, it is important to stress to your child that keeping the family safe is the number one priority. Police, emergency personnel, or even National Guard troops in your neighborhood will most likely frighten children, but explain to your child that you are being asked to leave your home in order to protect the family from harm. If you are relocating to a shelter, it is best not to let a child bring anything of value, such as expensive video game systems or toys, as they may get lost in the shuffle. Let her bring reading material or an activity book to occupy her during the evacuation period. The lesson to learn here is that material things can be replaced, but family members cannot.
Tip 5: Prepare Kids for the Aftermath of a Hurricane, Typhoon, or Tornado
If you rode out the bad weather at home, chances are your child will be anxious to get outside after the storm to assess the damage that has been done. Safety hazards such as downed power lines, flooding, and scattered debris make post-storm exploration a bad idea for anyone but emergency management officials. Explain to your child that cleanup efforts must first be undertaken before it is safe to go outside. If your house didn’t experience any major structural damage, let your child accompany you on a tour of the house to check that everything is secure and intact.If you were evacuated during the storm and are about to return home from a shelter, warn your child ahead of time that the house may not be in the same condition as when you left it. Again, emphasize the importance of preserving your family’s personal safety over the safety of your property. Let him know that no matter what has happened to your home, as long as the family is safe, you will face the future together as a family.
After witnessing the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, news of a hurricane approaching your area will almost certainly send you into a planning and preparation frenzy. Nobody wants to let a hurricane catch their family unprepared. But spending a little bit of time on preparing your children will pay off during and after the storm.