August 26, 2011


If you live on the East Coast of the United States, you have been hearing warnings for the last several days to get prepared for Hurricane Irene. There are lots of things that need to be done that kids can help with. Hurricane preparation is a family affair!

Here are some things you can do:


  • Walk outside and look for anything that might be blown around in a strong wind - an innocent toy or lawn chair can become a missile that breaks windows or causes injury when it’s caught up in an 80 mile per hour wind! Things that should be brought inside include: bicycles, skateboards, toys, garbage cans, sprinklers, watering cans, toys, garden tools, lawn furniture, umbrellas, recycling bins. Anything that can fly around should be brought indoors.
  • Help your family locate all the flashlights in the house, and put them all in one place, so you can find them easily if the lights go out. Check each to see if they are working, or if the batteries need to be replaced. Make a list of what kind of batteries each one needs, and how many. (You should buy double that number, so that you have backups).
  • Your family is going to need to do some extra food shopping. You can help to carry the bags and put the food away when you get home.
Pick out a favorite "read aloud" book, and put it in the "safe room" (the basement or interior room, with no windows) where your family will all gather together during the storm. When the electricity is out and there is no television or computer, it’s a great time for the whole family to read a story together, by flashlight! 
  • If your family lives in an area that may be evacuated, pack your backpack with a set of clean clothes and three sets of clean underwear. Put in your favorite toy or book, your toothbrush and a comb or brush. That way you are ready to go when the time comes.
  • FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a very good website with a checklist for preparing for a hurricane. Go to that website and print out the list, so that you can help your family to know everything that they need to get ready for the storm. 

ONE VERY IMPORTANT NOTE FOR ALL KIDS: After the hurricane passes, the area where you live may be flooded. Don’t go out and play in the water. Flooded areas are dangerous. Rapidly moving water even less than a foot deep can sweep you away. And, water may also be electrically charged from downed or damaged power lines. If you are in the street and see water, turn around and go the other way!

FOR FAMILIES WITH PRESCHOOLERS: It can be very difficult to explain big events like hurricanes to very little kids. My friends and former colleagues at Sesame Street have a great "hurricane toolkit" that includes video, and it’s free for any family who wants to use it. Click on the graphic to find these excellent materials.



Being prepared makes big storms less scary, and helps to keep people safe. 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

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