Jeanne-Aimée De Marrais
Senior Director, Save the Children
Running from June to the end of November, hurricane season can devastate everything from the economy to families. Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, there were more than 5,000 reports of missing children, and Hurricane Sandy resulted in 700 child care facility closures. What’s more is that even less powerful hurricanes can result in significant damage. Hurricane Sandy was only a Category 1 when it made landfall, but a powerful storm surge caused widespread flooding and destruction.
Most recently, we’ve seen how Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have impacted the country. If you live in an area where hurricanes are a threat, take action to prepare now.
What to do before a hurricane
Spend time with your family discussing why hurricanes occur. Explain that a hurricane is a natural event and not anyone’s fault, and use simple words that even young children can understand. Also find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area, and then assess your risks from storm surge, flooding or wind damage that may accompany a hurricane.
Then think about worst-case scenaris. First, plan evacuation routes out of your home and city or town. Practice your family evacuation plan so that during an emergency, you can evacuate quickly and safely. Take some time to learn your caregivers’ disaster plan, and ask your child’s school or child care center if they have emergency plans that address hurricanes.
Lastly, stay informed. Use a NOAA Weather Radio or listen to a local station on a portable, battery-powered radio or television, and be ready to act if a Hurricane Warning is issued.
What to do during a hurricane
Evacuate if told to do so by local authorities or if you feel unsafe. If advised to evacuate, avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges. Local officials may close certain roads, especially near the coast, when effects of the hurricane reach the coast. If you are not advised to evacuate or are unable to do so safely, stay indoors, away from windows, skylights and doors. Continue to monitor weather reports and do not go outside until the storm has passed. And, to protect your children from seeing too many sights and images of the hurricane, limit media exposure.