A big, bad hurricane is threatening to steamroll our coastline. Some of us – barely recovered from last year’s devastating floods – have a hard time summoning up the will to prepare for another major storm. Bett Williams, chief communications officer at Children’s Trust, offers some prevention tips for anxious children.

Evacuation Route Road Sign

Evacuation Route Road Sign

In the days to come, news of Hurricane Matthew will be on every news broadcast, at the top of your Facebook feed and a part of every conversation. Children, especially those affected by last year’s flooding, will naturally start to get anxious.

Our job as the adults in their lives is to help them through these disruptions and prepare our families for what might blow in from the Atlantic.

  1. Listen to the emergency officials. Evacuate early, and get your family out of harm’s way before it gets hectic and scary.
  2. Prepare. There is an excellent checklist on emergency supplies from FEMA and includes items such as your child’s favorite toy and medications.
  3. Involve your children in your preparation. Let them help you pack. The activity will be reassuring.
  4. Don’t panic, remain calm. Your children will take their cues from you. If you are OK, it will help them to be OK. Let them know that you are paying attention to the emergency experts who are working hard to keep everyone safe.
  5. Let them be themselves. Some kids are talkers, and some need time to think. Give them the space to process all that might be happening around them. When they are ready, be there to answer questions and alleviate any concerns.
  6. Let your friends help you. If they offer a safe place to stay, a warm meal or assistance with your children, don’t be shy about accepting that help. It can help relieve the pressure of an emergency situation.

Remember what Mister Rogers said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”  That is good advice for all of us.

I would love to think that if we stay vigilant and properly prepare, Matthew will keep far out to sea, away from our smiling faces and beautiful places.