Children learn best from close role models such as parents, caregivers, and teachers. In the absence of such role models, kids may emulate another kid instead. Children can also become traumatized if they are not sufficiently prepared for severe weather events.
In severe weather, life safety is too important for the blind to be leading the blind, so parents must take the lead in teaching their own kids about how to deal with it.
Owlie Skywarn was brought out of retirement to continue teaching kids about weather safety and proper responses to different forms of severe weather. Take your kids to Owlie Skywarn at the website noaa.kids.us.
Go with kids and participate with them in emergency preparedness drills sponsored by local civil and volunteer agencies. Your presence and involvement will be remembered in a family response to severe weather, and will go a long way to easing the worries and concerns of children.
Involve kids in monitoring daily weather conditions. Let them see you fire up the television weather channel or the NOAA Weather Radio and show them how to use them. Explain to the children in the morning how current weather forecasts affects family activities throughout the day and connect that to any needs for rain gear and galoshes.
Get kids to help to construct or set up a severe weather shelter in the home. Give them easy tasks such as bringing small portions of supplies to the shelter. Answer questions posed by kids about why things are set up the way they are, such as protective walls, supply areas, extra cushioning and protections against flying debris such as glass. This will make the experience more meaningful to them.
This is a great time to give kids shelter duties and responsibilities, divided among the children by age and ability. For example, one can be placed in charge of checking all the batteries and electrical appliances, while another can check all the expiration dates on supplies of food, water, and prescription medicines. Still another can be in charge of getting “go-kits” moved into the shelter. Overwhelming tasks should be left to the adults or subdivided to the children and still supervised by a capable adult.
Exposing kids to emergency communications, such as the Family Radio Service portable radios or the Amateur Radio Service, will also open doors to their own personal study and preparation for severe weather events.
Such involvement in everyday planning will set up a familiar routine that both adults and children can adhere to during the unsettling conditions of severe weather. If they forget all else, and are only focused on severe weather and extreme risks, then they should still remember these comfortable and lifesaving routines.