As Tropical Storm Sally strengthens and approaches the coast of southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, Save the Children urges parents and caregivers to talk to their children about hurricanes and take immediate steps to keep kids safe. Save the Children is the national leader for protecting children in emergencies, and here are our tips:
Prepare Your Kids Now for Tropical Storm Sally
- Talk about Tropical Storm Sally: Take time to explain to your children that a hurricane or tropical storm is a natural event and not anyone’s fault. Using simple, age-appropriate words and explanations about what disasters are or what happened during a disaster can give them a sense of understanding and control. Let them know your top priority is to keep them safe.
- Reassure Kids: Let your children know you’re planning ahead to keep them safe. Reassure them that during an emergency, many caring adults — including parents, teachers, and first responders — will be working to keep them safe.
- Finalize a Plan: Find out if you live in an evacuation area, and assess your risks from a storm surge, flooding or wind damage. Together with your kids, identify the best evacuation routes – and plan for where you may be able to go while still following the CDC’s social distancing recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic – so you can all be ready to evacuate quickly and safely.
- Fill out Contact Cards: Make Emergency Contact Cards for all your children, which include three emergency contacts that any first responder or caregiver can reach out to, in case you are separated during the storm. Since local power and phone service can be disrupted during emergencies, it’s also important to have one out-of-town contact. Practice learning these numbers with your children.
- Pack a ‘Go-Bag’: Put together a “Go-Bag” with each of your children ahead of time, which can include a favorite stuffed animal and the comforts of home, as well as items to help protect them from the spread of COVID-19 and an emergency contact card. The Go-Bag should also include a flashlight with extra batteries and activities to pass the time, like books or games, if you need to evacuate to a shelter. COVID-19 prevention items should include hand sanitizer and two cloth face coverings for each child over the age of 2, and additional hygiene items should include a toothbrush, comb, washcloth and a bar or liquid soap.
What to Do During Tropical Storm Sally
- Evacuate If Instructed To Do So: Evacuate if told to do so by local authorities, or if you feel unsafe. If you evacuate, you should follow CDC recommendations for how to stay safe and healthy in a public setting or shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic – and avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Local officials may close certain roads, especially near the coast, when the effects of the hurricane reach the coast.
- Stay Indoors, If Not Evacuated: If you are not advised to evacuate, or are unable to do so safely, stay indoors, away from windows, skylights and doors. Continue to monitor weather reports and do not go outside until the storm has passed.
What to Do After Tropical Storm Sally
- Limit Media Exposure: Protect children from seeing too many sights and images of the hurricane, including those on the internet, television, or newspapers.
- Ensure Utilities Are Available: Before children are returned to areas impacted by Tropical Storm Sally, make sure utilities, such as electricity and plumbing, are restored and living and learning spaces in homes, schools, and child care facilities are free from physical and environmental hazards.
- Keep Routines. Children experience comfort from rituals and routines, like a story before bedtime or a family meal each evening. If at all possible, keep these routines.
- Role Model and Listen. Remember, children look to you and pick up on your moods and cues. Let your children know that it’s okay to be sad, but do your best to reassure them that they’re safe. Although the dangers of a hurricane are very real, your child’s fears may be out of proportion or unrealistic. Take the time to talk to them and hear their concerns.
Save the Children has been supporting children’s most critical needs in emergencies on the Gulf Coast since 2005. Its caring professionals are prepared to help vulnerable children during disasters and their aftermath. By contributing to our Children’s Emergency Fund, you will help us serve children in the U.S. and around the world.
To learn more about Save the Children’s hurricane preparation and response work, please go to www.SavetheChildren.org/hurricane.