Tips for parents on how to talk to kids about severe tropical weather

Tips for parents on how to talk to kids about severe tropical weather
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Information provided by Save the Children.

As Tropical Storm Barry crawls its way toward the Gulf Coast and Louisiana in particular, Save the Children urges parents and caregivers to take immediate steps to keep kids safe in anticipated flooding and high winds produced by the storm. Save the Children is the national leader for protecting children in emergencies, and here are our tips:

Before the Storm

  • Talk about the Storm: Spend time with your family discussing why hurricanes and flooding occur, and how to stay safe during the storm. Explain that it is a natural event and not anyone’s fault. Use simple words that young children can understand.
  • 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.
  • Identify Evacuation Routes: Find out if you live in Tropical Storm Barry’s impact or evacuation area, and assess your risks for a storm surge, flooding or wind damage. Together with your kids, identify the best evacuation routes, 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, which can include a favorite stuffed animal, as well as an emergency contact card and activities to pass the time, like books, crayons or games, if you need to evacuate to a shelter. Every family should also have an emergency preparedness kit, complete with nonperishable food items, a flash light, medicine and other medical supplies, water and personal hygiene items like baby wipes and hand sanitizer.
  • Stay Informed: Use a NOAA Weather Radio or listen to a local station on a battery-powered device, radio or TV. Listen for what to do in a hurricane or flood warning or watch.

During the Storm

  • Evacuate If Instructed To Do So: Evacuate if told to do so by local authorities, or if you feel unsafe. If advised to evacuate, avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Local officials may close certain roads, especially near the coast, when 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. If flooding occurs, move to higher levels of your home. Continue to monitor weather reports and do not go outside until the storm has passed and flood waters have receded.
  • Keep Children Away from Dirty Water: Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater as it’s likely to be dirty, carry bacteria, and vulnerable to electric shock.
  • Keep Children Clean: Wash children’s hands frequently – always before meals – and ensure they bathe after being exposed to flood waters or flood-damaged areas.

After the Storm

  • Ensure Utilities are Restored: Before children return to flood-affected areas, ensure utilities such as electricity and plumbing are restored. Living and learning spaces, including homes, schools, child care facilities, should be free from physical and environmental hazards.
  • Clean or Discard Contaminated Toys: Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water and have not yet been disinfected. Materials that cannot be readily disinfected, such as stuffed animals or pillows, should be thrown away.

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