Few events can be as destructive and trying for a family as a natural disaster. Homes can be destroyed and lives changed forever in just a short while. While severe storms can be devastating, there are ways to pick up the pieces and move forward as a family afterward, and the first step of such a recovery begins long before a storm hits. Preparing for the worst is your best tool in surviving a storm, so follow these steps.
Every family should have a disaster plan. You may not live in a storm-prone area, but natural disasters can strike almost anywhere. So whether it is a storm, fire, flood or earthquake, you should take steps to prepare to deal with natural disasters as a family. One common problem dealt with during disasters is confusion from the lack of a plan. People think that adrenaline will kick in and guide you to safety, but in reality, nervousness and stress can render even the most stable person into a state of confusion and inaction. This is when a disaster plan shines.
With a simple disaster plan, even the most overwhelmed person can simply be reminded of what they are supposed to do. The plan can be as simple as a spot on the front lawn, where the family is supposed to meet, to a more complex method for regrouping or communicating.
The plan should be specific, but also flexible. Things don’t always go as planned; the meeting area may be unsafe, for example. But in the absence of a plan, the lack of direction will ensure problems.
It’s not always possible to know the best or ideal location for shelter from a storm. In general, if a high-wind storm or tornado hits your neighborhood and you cannot safely get to a storm shelter, you should find the lowest room with the least amount of windows. For some, this may be a cinder block walled basement room, but for others, it may be a first-floor bathroom. To avoid confusion, this room should be clearly identified in a plan, especially if you are in a storm-prone area.
Of course, preparedness goes beyond making a plan of action for your family. You also need to take action to prepare your home as well. If you have landscaping that poses a threat to your home during storms, hire pros to take care of those problems. And the same goes for your gutters, which can protect your roof and foundation from water damage. Pop a phrase like “gutter cleaning services near me” into a search engine and use Angi.com to look up customer reviews to see which contractors in your area are the best of the best.
Children and disasters
Children are especially vulnerable to stress during a natural disaster. During these events much of their security systems start to crumble around them. They will feel scared and confused. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), children can reduce this stress when they are armed with knowledge about the event and how to deal with the aftermath. Involving children in the creation of your family’s disaster preparedness plan may help address this concern.
Beyond a plan, parents may have to distract children from the storm and aftermath that is going on outside. There are several ways to calm children, and fun family activities can help. If it is safe to move around the home, a scavenger hunt can help keep children active and engaged. If you are all limited to one room, storytelling and listening to music can help pass the time in a positive way.
If your home suffers a great deal of damage, and you and your family are located in a temporary or relief shelter, your children’s stress levels are going to be much higher. In this case, it will be important to stress positive aspects of life with your children such as reassuring them that life will return to normal and that you love and will protect them. If you’re able, try setting aside a few things in a go bag that could keep your children occupied and calm. Maybe it’s a few stuffed animals and some books or colored pencils, paper and comics.
A natural disaster can strike any family. It is possible to prepare your family for the worst. Being prepared will help your children maintain a healthy sense of optimism while being assured of your protection of them.