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Whether you live in an area known for tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, or flash flooding, chances are a natural disaster will happen at some point in your child’s life. The intensity of the storm may not be very high, but no matter the expected intensity, it’s important to help children prepare for a natural disaster before it strikes.

Start with a Plan

In the story of Hansel and Gretel from iStoryBooks, Hansel and Gretel are sent out in the woods.Fearing that they won’t be able to find their way home, the children come up with a plan (leaving a trail of crumbs) to find their way back home. When they get into trouble with the witch, Hansel and Gretel also work together to come up with a plan to escape. Because they have a plan, Hansel and Gretel are better able to withstand the challenges that come their way.

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Prepare your children by occasionally talking about what they should do if a natural disaster approaches. For example, talk about where in the house they should go if a tornado hits or what you plan to do if you are evacuated because of a hurricane. That way, children will be prepared if it happens.

Alleviate their Fears

When a natural disaster is poised to strike and government officials are urging people to take shelter or evacuate because the storm could cause serious injuries or damage, children start to become afraid. Some will express their fear. Others will put on a brave front and carry the fear inside. However, children handle their fear, it’s important to remind them that they do not need to be afraid. Don’t completely downplay the risk, but rather explain to children that you are taking steps to say safe, so there’s no reason to be scared. If children are still afraid, find something to comfort them, such as a stuffed animal or an activity (such as coloring) to take their mind off the impending natural disaster.

  • Turn Off the TV

While you want to know what’s happening minute-by-minute if a natural disaster is expected, children can be scared by the coverage of the natural disaster on television. Turn off the round-the-clock coverage on the television and, instead, look up information on your phone or listen to a radio feed with headphones on so your children cannot hear. Children often aren’t able to process the information shown on TV the same way as adults can, so they may get false ideas about what is to come.

  • Stay Calm

Your own attitude and demeanor can also cause kids to become more fearful. Try to stay calm and present a strong front for your children. It’s okay to be honest about your feelings and say something like “Mommy is feeling a little worried,” but you should follow it up with a reassuring statement like “but we’re taking precautions, so I’m confident we’ll be able to get through it.”

Heed Sound Advice

As a natural diaster approaches, be sure to heed sound advice. If officials recommend that you evacuate, then you should evacuate. If a tornado siren sounds, you should take cover. You’re not just responsible for yourself, you’re also responsible for your children. While you might be able to survive in the case of severe flooding or run from a tornado, it becomes more difficult with children in tow. So play it safe and heed sound advice to make sure you’re as safe as you can be during the disaster.