Bad weather, dangerous at times, should be discussed with children often, preparing them with safety preparations, drills, knowing what to expect, and knowing what to do when it arrives. Children, especially young children, can be bursting with curiosity when it comes to changes in weather. The definition of bad weather depends on where you live. It can mean thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, hail, floods, and other dangerous weather.
Teaching children about bad weather and the possibilities that might come with it, can start by parents, adults and teachers educating themselves first. Start preparing children for bad weather by talking to them, and practicing home drills. This will alleviate panic, accidents, and possibly survival. Similar to a home fire drill, parents and adults can educate children with what to do and how to handle upcoming, or the quick arrival of, bad weather.
Educate children early on the weather warnings and signals through NOAA’s National Weather Service announcements, radio alerts, television alerts, and local tornado sirens. Although children may be taught weather information at school, it’s best to teach them at home as well. Teaching siren sounds may be different, depending on where you live. NOAA’s Web site contains printable forms to educate adults and children on weather safety, including a printable coloring book (http://www.weather.gov/os/brochures.shtml).
Consider having a day without electricity to allow children to experience what happens without it. This will prepare them for what to expect, and teach them to be comfortable with the changes. If your power constantly goes out during thunderstorms, purchase an oil lamp for the kitchen table. The oil lasts longer than most candles, is safer than burning several candles around pets and small children, and lights up a larger area. If you do burn candles, be sure that they are in a safe location throughout the home, and teach children about fire hazards. For online assistance in teaching children about fire safety, visit Web site http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/kids/flash.shtm, for U.S. Fire Administration’s activities for kids, and resources for parents and teachers.
Put together a disaster kit, involve the children, and make sure it is in a secure location for quick use. Consider items that are relevant to survival in the event of seriously bad weather. For example, if your area is in a flood zone, consider candles, waterproof matches, food, water and other items you may need. Go over the items with your children and explain each item and what it will be used for if needed. In the event parents or teachers are injured, help may be required by an older child.
By simply preparing children ahead of time, before bad weather arrives, you can reduce accidents and mistakes. For example, talk to children and tell them to get to land if they are in water or in a boat when bad weather arrives. Tell them to stay away from metal fences, tall towers, power lines, and telephone poles.
Teach children to stay indoors, or how to find shelter if they are outside when bad weather occurs. Kids may not know that using a telephone or using water during a thunderstorm is dangerous. Go over safety details continuously throughout the year. View online resources, read books, and watch educational movies to help teach the warning signs that bad weather is about to arrive, and how to handle it.
Parents, teacher, and adults can educate themselves by receiving disaster training through American Red Cross for first aid and CPR. Teach children where the safest place in the house is in the event of bad weather. Parents and adults may want to suggest that their school invite a local meteorologist as a guest speaker. If emergency sirens regularly run a test, teach children to identify what that siren indicates. Talk to children on a regular basis, educate them, and prepare them for any type of bad weather.
MORE RESOURCES (ONLINE):
Weather Wiz Kids (Tornados, Winter Storms, Tornados, Rain and Floods, Lightening, Wind, Wildfires, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Weather Safety, Flash Cards, and lots more)
Weather Teaching Theme, Printables and Activities
FEMA for Kids: Resources for Parents and Teachers