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Hurricanes: Helping Your Family Be Prepared

Unlike some storms, a hurricane can come with some warning. You may wonder for days if it’ll hit your area, which can be stressful for you and your family. Being prepared — and letting kids help — can give you some sense of control and make everyone feel less anxious. Here are some tips to help your family plan.

How Can My Family Be Ready for a Hurricane?

Explain to your kids what you’re doing as a family to get ready and let them help. Teach your child to be prepared, not panicked.

Pack emergency kits. Hurricanes can cause you to lose power, water, and other utilities, so have kids help create storm prep kits. Include things like a weather radio, water, canned food, flashlights, batteries, and battery-powered phone chargers. You may need to evacuate or stay home, so prepare a to-go kit and a stay-at-home kit. The Red Cross has full supply lists online.

Infants will need extra items like formula and diapers. Kids who have a medical condition like asthma, diabetes, or one that requires electrical equipment like a ventilator, may need other supplies. Your doctor can tell you what to get.

Kids can help collect the items or shop with you. Plan ahead. When there’s news of a possible hurricane, stores often run out of things like bottled water. Think about what food and supplies pets would need as well.

Gather first aid supplies. It’s important to have a first-aid kit on hand. Kids can help you stock it and see if any supplies have expired.

After a hurricane, 911 emergency services may be very busy or delayed by blocked roads. As part of your storm preparation, consider taking a first aid or CPR class with your teen. Some are even available online.

Prepare your phone. Keep cellphones fully charged. Downloading a weather app can keep you up to date on where the storm is. Also, put the numbers for utility companies in your contacts in case you lose service. 

It may be hard to visit your doctor after a hurricane, so see if telehealth visits are available in your area. There might be an app you can add to your phone beforehand.

Secure the house and yard. Have kids go around the house with you helping lock doors and board up windows (if they’re old enough). They can also help move items like bikes and lawn furniture inside, and clear branches from the yard. Flying objects can be dangerous during a hurricane.

Check on neighbors. Older adults or other neighbors may need help with supplies or getting their house ready. Have older kids pitch in where they can.

Agree on a meeting place. Decide where the whole family can meet in case you become separated during or after the hurricane. This could be someplace like a neighbor’s home or a local landmark.

What Can Kids Do if We Lose Power During the Storm?

If you lose power for a while, find things kids can do until it’s back on. They might read, play board or card games, do jigsaw puzzles, draw, or paint. You can also suggest simple crafts like sewing (they can stitch a design on an old shirt) or origami (paper folding).

They can also play games that require little (if any) equipment, like shadow puppets, charades, and 20 questions. To get moving, have a family dance-off. And to ease some stress, try breathing exercises together.

What Else Should I Know?

Getting your family involved in storm prep can help everyone, but kids may still be nervous about it. Talk with them about the storm to ease any fears.

If your home or neighborhood has damage after a hurricane, check the CDC's tips on how to stay safe.

Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date Reviewed: Aug 25, 2023

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