It’s time again for hurricane season. When it comes time for the storm, we all need to take some serious precautions to prepare for what could be long term power outages, lack of accessibility to stores, pharmacies, and gas stations, and unexpected events like downed trees or power lines.
Although waiting out a Florida hurricane can be an alarming and terrifying event, it is essential for families with children to find ways to keep them entertained and comfortable.
Here’s a reminder of things to purchase and prepare for before the storm, and how to keep kids calm during the storm.
Hurricane Shopping List
You likely have most of what you need in the house already, but these are some of the important items that should be considered before a storm.
- Bottled water
- Toilet paper
- Lighters and matches
- Children’s first aid products (like kid’s Tylenol or rash ointment)
- Change of clothes
Families with children who have special needs should register with their local health department and emergency operations offices to find out the location of their special needs shelter in case of evacuation.
In case of evacuation, bring along important papers and valid ID; consider bringing copies of your child’s vaccination and/or medical record.
- Baby food
- Shelf stable milk
- Pet food
- Non-perishables like beans, cans of soups, cans or packets of tuna fish
- Fruit cups or cans
- Applesauce pouches
- Snacks and crackers
- Cereals and oatmeal
- Peanut butter
- Pasta sauce
- Juice boxes
Be sure to start eating up perishable items before the storm hits, like meat, seafood, and eggs, and freeze what can be frozen for later use.
While many Orlando families are making preparations now, having an emergency kit AND first-aid kit ready to go year-round is a must for any family.
Hurricane Preparedness for the Home
- Fill or replace your propane gas tank for your grill
- Ensure all flashlights and lanterns have batteries and are handy/accessible
- Fill water canteens
- Fill the bathtub and sink for washing or toilet flushing
- Clear debris from outside
- Do all the laundry including towels and sheets
- Have pet carriers near the door in case of a necessary evacuation
- Ensure children’s bottles are clean
- Fill up some bottles with tap water to have on hand before the storm
- Do all the dishes and put them away
- Dig the generator out of the garage
- Fill up all medications
- Ensure all sleep areas are away from windows, or bunk up together in a common safe space
- Charge all devices like cell phones, laptops and game devices
- Fill your gas tanks in your car
Remember to take care of yourself. Rest, eat well, and shower before things get difficult.
Making Hurricanes Comfortable for Kids
Note: Although these are entertaining activities to keep kids calm while waiting out a storm to arrive, it is important always to exercise caution first. Be alert and aware of the storm activity outside.
- Build a fort in the living room with pillows and blankets
- Go “camping” indoors and tell stories around one of these fun craft “campfires”
- Play board games or create your own with a poster board, marker, and things in your junk drawer
- Make a favorite snack together
- Have a family “jam session” with any musical instruments, or make your own out of household objects
- Go through the closet and have a fashion show
- Have a master chef kitchen competition using playdough
- Put on a talent show with stuffed animals as the audience
Once your hurricane preparations are done and as long as it is safe to do so consider heading to a playground with shade or a nature park to get some outside time before you’re stuck indoors. Be sure it is safe to do so, otherwise, have some outside time at home if you can.
Also if it is safe to do so, head to your local library to stock up on some books for your kids, and yourself to have something new to read.
Involving Your Kids with Storm Prep
- Track the storm together on TV or over a weather radio
- Do emergency “drills” like what to do if flood water comes in the house, or where to find the emergency supplies or fire extinguisher.
- Do pretend phone calls to 911 using an old phone or toy, quiz your children on their address.
- Practice breathing exercises and other calming techniques
- Save some empty water bottles or 2 liter bottles and make rain gauges (print instructions out online in advance).
- Read books with headlamps and flashlights
Reminders to Tell Your Kids During a Hurricane
- Keep away from windows and doors
- Don’t go outside for any reason
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed (to keep the food from spoiling)
- If power goes out, put your child in charge of flashlight duty. A job will keep them feeling more in control
- Explain why water from the tap can be dangerous to drink after a storm
- Explain what to expect, including high winds, heavy rain, thunder and lightning, and the potential for flooding or flying debris.
- Keep pets calm by keeping kids calm
Remember that children don’t always grasp the full situation and will mimic how their parents are behaving. As a parent, if you panic – they will panic too.
Keep a calm and level head and your children will follow suit. Make sure they are prepared to follow your directions in the event of an emergency.
Important Things to Know
- Do not leave yard waste (bags of leaves, etc) on the curb before the storm. They can easily be washed into storm drains causing flooding
- Visit Orange County’s Emergency Information Page (or your local county) for more details
- Call 911 in the event of an emergency
- Do not park your cars under a tree. If possible, park in a nearby parking garage and retrieve after the storm
- Download the OCFL Alert app for up to date emergency alerts in Orange County
- Osceola County Hurricane Center
- Seminole County Notices
- Lake County Storm Updates