We've been really lucky here in South Florida over the past few years, but now that we're in the midst of another hurricane season, with Hurricane Isaac (maybe) headed this way, I've been giving some thought to preparing kids for hurricanes. In Miami, we adults know how to prepare for the big storms. But how do we get the kids ready, physically, mentally, and emotionally? Here are a few tips:
- Minimize the media. A key to the craziness is always The News. Overkill is an understatement when it comes to the media and hurricane insanity. As adults, we might want to have every television set and radio on and tuned to weather reports to stay updated, but try to be discreet--kids shouldn't be seeing the dramatic footage of rain, gusts, and waves. Monitor the weather periodically and discreetly--not 24/7 in every room of the house.
- To each his own...flashlight. It might seem simple, but making sure your kids have their own flashlights, know where they are located, and how to operate them will come in handy if you lose power.
- Create a Kid Kit. In addition to your family's basic hurricane kit, create a second kit with the kids in mind. Include: games that can be played by candlelight or flashlight. Books that haven't been read. Battery-powered DVD player with favorite/unseen movies. ANYTHING that glows (glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark balls, one or more of the Crayola Glow products, glow-in-the-dark Benderoos, etc.) Kid-sized pillows and blankets. Kid-friendly single-serve snacks. Books of brainteasers/mazes. Chances are, you already have many of these items around the house, but the point is to gather them so you're not looking for them when you have other important prep tasks.
- Prepare with Playdates. One great thing about hurricanes--they don't exactly sneak up on you. There's a lot of waiting involved...and waiting...and waiting... When you realize that school is cancelled, jump on the phone and organize playdates with a group of parents. Don't let boredom set in before the weather even hits! Trade kids off between houses while it is safe to drive.
- Be on the lookout for anxiety. If you've been in Miami before with a hurricane on the way, I think you'll agree that you can almost feel the tension, anxiety, and worry in the air as residents rush around making last minute preparations. Imagine how that might translate to a child! Be on the lookout for signs of worry in your kids, and use all your supermom powers to calm and soothe them. Every child is different, and every age is different--for some, knowledge is power. For others a calm, soothing environment goes a long way. You know your child--just don't miss the signs of anxiety, and work to keep your own anxiety to yourself so it doesn't transfer to the kids.
What are your favorite tips for hurricanes with kids in Miami?
photo credit: sxc.hu/fgreen70