How To Talk To Kids About Hurricanes

We’ve seen quite a few hurricanes over the past decade, causing huge amounts of chaos and damage. Children are, naturally, anxious about them during storm season. So here's how to talk to kids about hurricanes.

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A house along the New Jersey, USA, shore partially swept away by the wall of water created by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Hurricanes are ugly meteorological events. So far this year, we’ve seen Hurricane Florence, and Hurricane Michael, as well as many tropical depressions and tropical storms, pile on heaps and heaps of devastation as well as leaving many dead and causing billions of dollars in damage. It is crucial that we teach our children about hurricanes and and how we can stay safe from them. Here’s how to talk to kids about hurricanes.

What Are Hurricanes?

Children are naturally inquisitive and will ask what a hurricane is. According to noaa.gov, a hurricane is a “type of storm called a tropical cyclone, which forms over tropical or subtropical waters.” But for little children, it might just be best to tell them that it is a big and windy storm that forms around areas of water, with lots of rain, lightning and thunder. But the biggest thing to tell them is that grown-ups are around and will keep them safe.  

What Do We Teach Them?

First and foremost, we teach our children that during any type of storm, it is not okay to go outside, but especially during hurricane season. The best thing that we can teach them is to be prepared. Help ease their minds about any impending storms by putting together a storm-preparedness plan together.

What Does Storm-Preparedness Look Like?

You may have to teach your children that they might have to evacuate the area, due to impending floods. Help them learn what an evacuation entails, and that there will be many people along the way, including you, the parents, police, and rescue workers that will help your family during an evacuation. Let them know that they are safe with you.

Perhaps to help ease their worries a bit, have them help prepare a family disaster emergency kit. They can help pick out things like canned goods, water, first-aid kits, flashlights, batteries, a non-electric radio, etc.

Create A “Go Bag”

You can also have them create their own “Go Bag” for if an evacuation happens.

Items that would go in their bag would be things like a comfort item of their own, a couple of changes of clothes, and perhaps a non-electric game, in case of a power outage. Each family member should have a “Go Bag” of their own. If anyone in the family takes any medications, make sure to bring those with you as well. Personal hygiene items are also essential to remember to bring along as well.

In Case Of Emergency

Begin preparing your child before disaster strikes. Teach them phone numbers. If they are small children, try to teach them at least one phone number of an emergency contact of your choice. If an emergency does arise, perhaps pin ideally three emergency contact numbers to your children, or put them on a bracelet, or even write them on your children’s arms in a pinch, should, God forbid, you get separated from them.

Let Them Express Their Feelings

They may be feeling vulnerable and scared during the storm. If they are little, they also may not know how to convey those emotions quite correctly just yet. Check in with them emotionally and ask them how they are feeling, why they are feeling that way, and if there is anything that you can do for them. Perhaps do some reading up on hurricanes (before one happens), and how to talk to kids about hurricanes, so that you are prepared, should the conversation come up.

What Else You Can Do

If you do have to evacuate to a shelter, there are some other things that you can bring for your children. For example, go on the internet and find free printable activities such as word searches, mazes, connect-the-dots, mad-libs and coloring pages. Even grab a pack of crayons and construction paper from your local dollar store, so they can draw. If you are on your way to a safe destination or a shelter, you could always play car games along the way, like I Spy.

On the whole, we want to make our children feel safe and secure. So, the more that we educate them, the more we involve them, and the more we communicate with them, the better.

 

Jennifer Corter
Jennifer Corter is a twenty-something stay-at-home mother, writer, and self-published author. She's the founder of Positivity in Pain, a community of over 84,000 people who have come together to fight chronic illness with humor. She also writes for her personal blog, Corter Moon, and is a self-taught jewellery artisan.