Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness with Kids

It can be a little nerve-wracking when a hurricane is threatening to blow into town (especially when it follows a tornado and an earthquake, and even more especially when you have a family and children to protect). We read all about disaster-preparedness kits, but who really follows all of the recommendations? For example, using my bathtubs to store extra drinking water is probably more dangerous than any storm. (I’m not a fan of cleaning the bathtub, not to mention the fact that Baby T likes to pee in it).

But when you’re faced with the likelihood of a power outage, a tornado, or flooding, what can you do?

Here are some practical tips:

1. Stock up on flashlights and batteries
 This one actually makes sense. If your power goes out, you don’t want to have to use candles, especially with kids around, so make sure everyone has a flashlight so you can get around the house without tripping over every matchbox car along the way.

2. Get a few gallons of water
You’re not going to have to have a ton of water for everyone, and if anything were to happen to the water supply, you could drive a few hours out of town and stay in a hotel for a while. But it would be nice not to be completely dehydrated on your drive.

3. Keep non-perishable food on hand
It always makes me crazy when I go to the grocery store before a storm and see empty shelves where the eggs and milk used to be. Are you really going to freak out if you run out of eggs and milk during a storm? What about peanut butter and jelly? That’s what the kids really want. And s’mores. Oreo cookies. This is not the time to force the kids to eat their vegetables. Stock up on snacks like granola bars,cereal, and cheddar bunnies—stuff that you know your kids will eat. You want to make sure your kids don’t get hungry. That will just make everyone cranky.

4. Prepare one room to sleep in
Slumber party!! If there is a threat of a tornado of if there are high winds, your kids might be scared, and you might feel safer having them close to you, especially if you have to evacuate quickly for any reason. Set up camp in one room, preferably an interior room with few (or no) windows.

5. Think about a tornado shelter
Tornadoes can strike quickly, so you might need to set this up beforehand. At least have an idea of where you will go. A tornado struck the town my parents lived in several years ago while my entire family was visiting for Thanksgiving. The only room in the house with no windows was a coat closet under the stairs. Needless to say, 10 people could not have fit in that closet. We didn’t really have a plan. We all sat in the living room, watching the tornado coverage on TV and looking out the giant glass windows that took up the entire back wall of the living room.

Probably not our safest option.

I think if we had heard the characteristic sound of a freight train that usually accompanies tornadoes, the fastest person to the coat closet would have won. That’s where all the marathons my sister runs would have benefitted her.

But seriously, consider where you could go. The last time there was a tornado warning in Wilmington, we created a tornado shelter in our bathroom (the only place in our house with no windows). I’m not sure how we would all have fit in there, but we would have made it work.

6. Keep your shoes (and shirt) on
One of my biggest fears during a storm is having to run from the house without proper attire. I like to keep my shoes, shirt, and bra on during storms in case I’m suddenly stranded. Having the kids running around in diapers is probably not the best idea, in case you have to run out in the rain for some reason. Keep an bag of extra clothes handy so you can grab it on your way out if you have to evacuate quickly.

7. Keep a baby carrier handy
I have about 10 different baby carriers. You can borrow one for the hurricane if you want. I like to keep them handy, though, because if we did have to evacuate quickly, I could easily keep track of my kids if I was wearing them. If you have to leave your house for several hours or days, a stroller or baby carrier will help you stay sane wherever you end up.

8. Keep the diapers and wipes close by
You don't want to run out of these!

Those are all the tips I can think of (at least, the realistic ones that I would be most likely to follow). What are your hurricane preparedness tips?

1 comment:

  1. Growing up in New England we prepped for hurricanes. Now I live in OK and we prep for tornadoes. I would have to say I will take a hurricane any time. They at least give you days of warning. Sometimes we have minutes of warning. But the prep is still the same, one bit of advice that is being touted here is to have the kids take their bike helmets in with them in your safe place. We had an opportunity to do that this spring. While we did not need them I was greatfull to have that information.