Updated: 9/12/2018 - New Apps and Links below! Thanks for all of your feedback!
Hurricanes are a normal part of fall activity in the south. As hard as our meteorologists try, predicting exactly where a hurricane will make landfall and how strong it will be - wind force; rain fall totals - is impossible to predict more than a few days out. And even then, these storms are fickle beasts who often change their courses, slow down, speed up, become stronger, quickly weaken or turn ever so slightly.
When should I start to worry?
Don't. I always like to encourage parents to prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and work hard not to worry. You can't control the weather with your thoughts or worries. You can only control your preparation and your responses. Our little people need us to be calm in the face of adversity - whether it's an every day event or a major meteorological event - they depend on our calm to help keep them calm. So if you can help it, keep your own big feelings under control.
Stay calm by reducing your media consumption. For adults, watching the hourly updates and reports about the aftermath of storms gives us some comfort or fuels our our curiousity. Sometimes, our little people are overwhelmed by so much information, provided repetitively, such that their imaginations run wild and their levels of anxiety increase. Consider only watching weather updates when you're not with your kids or after they go to bed. Or only turn it on if you get a notification from your emergency management system. Talk about the storm with your kids in a simple way and looks for ways to find fun as you do it. Ready.Gov has a website full of emergency related games that you can check out or play with your kids (please preview for appropriateness depending on age!) Or, turn a power outage into a camping trip! Pick up S'mores supplies before it happens and plan to do puzzles and card games just like you would on a camping trip.
How should I prepare?
DirectEnergy.com has a pretty handy-dandy list for what kinds of supplies you might want to have on hand and what to do if you lose power.
I tell my kids we're going to pre-tend like we're camping if the power goes out, and my list reflects that. If you prepare like you're going to rough-it on the Appalachian Trail for a few days, you'll probably have most of what you need. And always keep on hand a list of the hurricane shelters that are close to you in case you need to leave your home for any reason.
Here's my list:
- Water: 1 gallon of water per person per day. If you live in a city or town. You probably won't need to prep that much water at all. City water supplies are well protected and backed up by their own generators in case of power losses.
- Safety: First Aid Kit - bandaids, bacitracin, hand sanitizer, medications, a washcloth, hydrogen peroxide, babywipes, tampons, diapers.
- Light: Flashlights with batteries - 1 per person, keep batteries to the side so they don't drain before the event.
- Food: nonperishable food items like cereal, canned fruit, snack bars, bread + PB/honey, crackers, apples, pet food, baby food, pasta with canned sauce
- Sanitation: Trash bags, paper towels, baby wipes, toilet paper, non-drinking-water in re-used gallon jugs for flushing toilets and washing dishes.
- Tools for survival camping: ponchos, tarp, rope, duct tape, foil, bugspray, sunscreen, full tank for the gas grill, Cash, can opener, Fully charged cell phone + 1 portable battery charger, matches, dish soap, paper products for eating, baby gear.
And here are some new things I've added this time around:
- Important Documents: Store passports, SS cards, and other important documents in waterproof bags in case of flooding
- Freeze a couple of 1 liter water bottles and leave them in your freezer to help keep the freezer cold after power goes out.
- Camping! Prep a Cooler with frozen water bottles, some useful perishable items to feed you the first day the power is out and DO NOT OPEN THE FRIDGE OR FREEZER.
If the power goes out - and stays out for multiple days - here are some other tips that may help.
Food and Water -
- Eat all your perishable items from the pantry and fridge before you open your freezer.
- If frozen foods still have ice crystals in the middle, they are still safe to eat.
- Go through your stock of non-perishable items last.
- If/when you run out of water, or if your city notifies you that your water is unsafe, 6 droplets of bleach per gallon should disinfect any questionable water. You can also boil your water to disinfect it.
For the babies: Find your travel baby gear and put it in a safe place that is easy to access. This includes any loveys or pacis that will help keep your child calm. Having a snuggle item and a few things to entertain little ones really helps if the power goes out during the day and its not safe to travel.
Keep frozen breast milk frozen: Put it as far back in the freezer as possible. Stack frozen water bottles around it. If there are frozen crystals in it when the power comes back on, its' safe to refreeze and continue to use.
Formula: If you usually make formula once per day in a large container, during power outages please only make as much as your child needs at each feeding.
Make sure that you keep waste/diapers separate from your food and water supplies to prevent contamination.
If your home is damaged or unsafe, seek shelter immediately at one of your area's local hurricane shelters. You can find a list of these in your ReadyNC app! Or, keep your eye on the news for announcements since shelters usually only open as necessary. They are usually in schools. And don't forget to take all of your supplies (above) with you!
Useful apps to download and follow:
- WRAL Weather
- NOAA Weather App / NOAA's Facebook Page
It's easy to get anxious when uncontrollable weather is on the horizon. If need more encouragement and information about keeping yourself and your children calm, check out these other related articles:
- Let Elmo explain Hurricanes to your kids with this video
- Preparing for Hurricanes with Kids: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/hurricanes-preparing.html
- Preparing for a Hurricane for and with Kids: http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/hurricane-preperation-for-and-with-children-a-handy-list
- Ready.Gov's Kids Website: https://www.ready.gov/kids
- Save The Children's HUrricane Prep List: https://www.savethechildren.org/us/what-we-do/us-programs/disaster-relief-in-america/hurricane-tips
- National Trauma Stress Network Resources: https://www.nctsn.org/what-is-child-trauma/trauma-types/disasters/hurricane-resources
Do you have other tips? Leave us a comment and tell us what you're doing or have done to prepare and keep calm.