Florida provides endless fun year round: theme parks, sun, sand and adventure. But there’s a dark side to the weather here, and it can sometimes get a little scary for families. Hurricane season runs from June 1 through the end of November, with the high season occurring in August and September.
Before the Storm
Bill Quinlan, a meteorologist on WCJB TV20’s weather team, insists that although North Central Florida may not see a lot of hurricane action, it is always best to be prepared. The biggest threats from storms blowing through the area include trees and limbs being blown over, low-level flooding and occasional tornadoes.
All families should have an emergency kit prepared before storm season starts, Quinlan said. The most basic materials to include in this kit are water and food. There should be one gallon of water per person per day, and enough to last at least five days. Remember to pack nonperishable foods since there won’t be any power. Important documents and cash should also be kept on hand.
Be sure to stock up on important medications (like insulin and heart medication) to last one to two weeks. While it may be possible to leave the house a few days after big emergencies, there is no guarantee that pharmacies will be open or in stock with what you need.
Quinlan also suggests having an extended family emergency plan for those with out-of-state families. Have a single person you will call who will get the word out to everyone else. Let them know if you will be leaving your house to go to a shelter.
“Contact should be made before the storm gets here,” he said. “It can get very scary if people don’t understand where you’ve gone.”
Have an emergency cell phone handy as well. Although landlines may be down, most signals will remain uninterrupted after a storm.
Riding it Out
The toughest part of the season can be making your kids feel safe when it feels like the Big Bad Wolf is trying to blow the house down. Be as honest with them as possible so they can understand the importance of the situation.
One way to make this seem more fun is to treat it like a camping trip. Have kids pack away their favorite snacks and games at the beginning of the season along with your essentials. Having their favorite coloring and activity books on hand can make the time pass more quickly. The key is to keep them occupied to they don’t focus on the scariness.
While having no cable and electricity to fall back on may seem like the end of the world, it can become an incredible bonding experience for families.
“You’re going to have a lot of free time with your kids. Plan activities you can enjoy together,” Quinlan said.
To keep informed while the storm is raging, invest in a small weather radio. Battery-powered televisions are another option, but only if they are compatible with new HD formatting.
Children can be in more danger when wandering the streets after the storm than when they are sitting at home waiting it out. Downed power lines and flooding are a huge threat to their safety. Explain to them the hazards that lurk in destroyed buildings and in innocent-looking puddles.
If serious damage occurs, children may express fear that it can happen again. Make sure to alleviate their fears and allow them to ask questions. The chaos after a storm can be quite daunting for the inexperienced, but getting through it is easier as a family.
Preparing your family for hurricane season should be done sooner rather than later. For the updates on hurricane season prep, visit the websites for the American Red Cross and FEMA.
To print out a free Hurricane Survival Guide Checklist, click here!