With numerous activities involved in preparing for hurricane season, don’t neglect to spend a few minutes safeguarding your most important asset- your children. The “unknown” can create stress for families both before and after the storm. Taking the time to prepare you young ones for the hazardous weather can save you from unwanted meltdowns.  Children who have been prepared, and whose parents handle the disaster well, have a greater ability to cope with the stress. The following are some tips to help you teach, prepare, and play-out the storm.

Teach: Talking with your children prior to the hurricane can help to alleviate their fears. Be sure to explain why people board up their homes, what goes on outside during the storm, the sounds they will hear, and the likelihood of loosing power. The Internet has many resources that can help you teach basic concepts about the weather and its effects in terms kids can understand. Try www.weatherwizkids.com.

Prepare: Make preparations for hurricane season, just as you would for a house fire or other family disaster. Create a family plan that includes home safety, your family’s needs, and emergency actions. Allow children to participate in family preparations so they may feel less vulnerable. Simple tasks for children may include checking the yard for loose material, shopping for provisions, preparing a “safe place” with supplies, cleaning perishables items from the refrigerator, assembling an activity box for the storm, and being in charge of their own flashlight. Keep your family informed of evacuations, open shelters, government aide, and storm updates.

Play-out: In addition to a little wind and raid a hurricane brings time.. and lots of it! Schools and businesses can remain closed for days after the storm as they deal with unexpected repairs. This gives you plenty of time to be at home with each other so make it a fun memorable experience by thinking outside of the box! Keep to routines as much as possible and incorporate fun activities for the downtime. Here are some ideas to start you on your way:

  • Safe Camp: To make bunkering down even more fun, allow your children to set up a tent in your safe place.
  • Activity Kit: Gather family games, art supplies, and your child’s favorite toys together for easy access during the storm.
  • Entertainment: Have your children develop imaginary products that would be useful in the storm and the act out silly commercials.
  • Daylight Advantage: Let’s face it, there is more for children to do during daylight hours. Avoid sleeping-in and mid-day napping! Have your children go to bed early and rise early so that they do not find themselves restless and bored during the evening without power.
  • Driveway Movies: If you happen to have a laptop adaptor( or built in DVD player) for the car, you can go to the movies in your driveway.
  • Fondue Fun: Think of ways to make dinner a fun experience. Fondue, s’mores over candles, and grilled fruit can be sweet dinner adventures.
  • Explore: Take advantage of those bicycles or roller-skates you have always been meaning to use.
  • Volunteer: Encourage your children to help neighbors clear their yards and make repairs. Keep track of their unpaid volunteer hours during the storm. Many schools have volunteer coordinators who keep record of your child’s hours for future scholarship requirements.

Clara Bossie, M.S., B.Ed., LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches in Delray Beach Florida.  She works with children and teens both individually and in groups, including DBT Skills Group for Teens and Pre-teens.