I had another post I was working on for this week, but in light of Hurricane Irene, I’ve decided to write about preparing for an emergency. Because that’s what I’m doing for our family today.
As I look out my window, it’s hard to believe this storm is approaching. All I see are sunny, blue skies. However, our yard animals have been behaving differently the past few days. I’m noticing less birds and squirrels. They seem to have an advance warning system of their own and are probably taking cover wherever birds and woodland creatures go when a storm is coming.
For anyone with small children, I’m including some great info and links from Sesame Street.org here:
Let’s Get Ready Toolkit (Help to get your family prepared for an emergency):
Let’s Get Ready Initiative (more info):
There are also Sesame Street shows about a hurricane that strikes. You can see “Hurricane – Part 1.” Or go to Sesame Street, click on videos and search for “Hurricane” and all four parts will show up for viewing.
I’ve explained to Max that a big storm is coming, but that we’ll be safe at home. We’re preparing ourselves with everything that is recommended in advance of such an emergency. I’ve checked our local state government website, local news and weather reports —-all have detailed information about how to prepare with handy checklists.
I’m letting Max in on some of what is going on so he understands and can participate in the preparations in an age-appropriate way. On his level, that means he knows where his own flashlight is, and some of what we’re planning to do (make sure we have batteries, a radio, chocolate treats, etc.) But not too much information that might overwhelm or scare him. He asked me, “Mommy, is the Hurricane going to be the kind that takes away our house?” I replied, ‘It’s unlikely, but we’ll probably have lots of rain and wind. We’ll be safe at home.”
Every child is different. So, I determine what I think Max needs to know and when. Reassuring him is something I’ll continue to do (even if I am NOT so sure about what exactly might happen). Clearly, if one is in an evacuation zone, the info you share is even more crucial and urgent. I think it’s best to give kids the feeling that parents are in charge. Suggest they bring a beloved “lovey” toy or stuffed/plush animal, books, and any other item that will comfort them away from home. If they can choose something, they will have a sense of control. If they can’t choose, choose for them. Staying calm and collected is important. It’s easier said than done when the reports are alarming and real. And Max always picks up on my vibes. When I don’t know the answer to a question, I’ll say, “I don’t know, but we can find out.” I try to give Max the sense that the most important things (our family including our cat, etc.) will all be safe. I let him express his fears, and I comfort him when he does. Even if you don’t know for sure, I’ll say,”We’re doing everything we can to keep our family safe.”
We certainly can’t control Nature, but we can do our part to be safe as can be. If you don’t absolutely need to travel, please get off the roads to ease congestion: a) so people who are being evacuated can get where they need to go safely. b) so emergency responders can get through. If you’re on the roads for whatever reason, please be extra patient and kind to your fellow travelers. Expect people to be nervous/distracted/on edge while driving around shopping for supplies. People who have been evacuated might be especially distraught and for good reason. I will now take my own advice and take a deep breath.
If you’re home and have everything you need, it’s time to pull out the games, pitch a tent in your living room, and break out the sleeping bags (Max thinks this is “so cool!”). If I can give Max a sense of adventure about the storm coming, but also balance that with truth (i.e., this is a serious storm and we need to pay attention), then I think we’ll be OK.
I hope everyone stays safe and out of harms way.
In the words of Randy Newman from the song, “That’ll Do” (from the movie Babe):
“A kind and steady heart will surely see you through.”