Hurricane preparedness means doing things ahead of time and acting quickly when one is coming to reduce the dangers and keep people and communities safe. I invited my friend Reine from Prepping In Suburbia to write this post about how she prepares her family for hurricanes.
Hello, readers! My name is Reine and just like JaNae over here at Prepared Like A Mother, I create practical preparedness content for families.
I grew up and continue to live in Eastern North Carolina, so much of the content that I create on my Prepping In Suburbia account reflects the realities of living in a small, coastal community.
JaNae has graciously invited me here today to talk to you from a mom’s perspective about the realities of prepping for and living through hurricanes and lessons learned over a lifetime of experience.
I believe that preparing my family to survive and thrive through hurricane season is about much more than just stocking up on canned goods and water. Here are some of the practical ways that I go above and beyond the basics to support my family’s physical and emotional needs.
Lesson 1: Mental and Emotional Prep
Hurricanes can be very intense events and even after years of experience, I still sometimes find myself feeling anxious about them. So much about these incredible storms is unpredictable – from their path to their strength to their consequences – that being worried about it all just seems to be part of the process.
Part of the way that I manage my concerns is through the physical prep process; stocking up on water and food, making sure I have my first aid and other medical preps in place, and refreshing our 72-hour kits.
However, I’ve learned though that assembling these hurricane prep items is only part of my job as a mom. Helping my kids prepare mentally and emotionally has become a vital part of our family storm prep.
My primary objective before the wind and rain clouds roll in is to establish open lines of communication. When my kids were little, we talked about things like what hurricanes are, the kinds of things they might see or hear during the storm, and our family’s specific plan. I let them lead the conversation and tried to answer in a truthful, age-appropriate manner. These conversations were mostly about fear-management and offering reassurances (i.e. the storm will be loud at times which might be scary, but our house is safe, and Dad and I will be right here with you).
Now that my kids are a little bit older, those open lines of communication are still important, but the conversational topics have become more complex. Now we talk together about plan details like inventory needs, evacuation routes, and personal versus community needs.
This kind of mental and emotional prepping can significantly reduce the fear associated with uncertainty and help foster a sense of control.
Lesson 2: Tailor Your Preps To Your Family’s Preferences
Hurricanes bring along all sorts of secondary challenges such as power outages, school closings, and supply chain disruptions. It’s crucial that you prepare your family for these problems by stocking universal items like flashlights, entertainment items, extra food and fuel.
But just because everyone needs to do it doesn’t mean that you have to do it the same way everyone else does.
Let’s use flashlights as an example. One year there was a storm headed our way and I had the brilliant idea to take my kids to go find fun new flashlights for their 72-hour kits. I gave them a budget and told them they could pick anything that fit within it.
One child purchased a princess flashlight that also had a color-changing feature. Super fun, right?
The other child purchased a dinosaur light… that roared each time you turned it on.
After about an hour? Not. So. Fun.
In some ways, I offer this story as a cautionary tale (i.e. maybe only agree to flashlights that don’t also make noise?) but also to tell you that the lights were a huge hit. Finding ways to customize kits with necessary items that also reflect personality preferences can make a significant difference in how your family experiences emergency situations. Taking the time to account for individuality can turn otherwise mundane emergency gear into something that kids are enthusiastic about, which in turn can help normalize the experience, reduce anxiety, and help make a challenging situation just a little more bearable for everyone.
Lesson 3: Let Your Kids Help and Take Their Advice
There’s a lot that needs to be done before, during, and after a hurricane. Rather than trying to keep the kids out from underfoot, think about ways that you can put them to work for the benefit of the entire family.
Before the storm, your kids can do things such as; help brainstorm possible evacuation destinations, count bottles of water (and do follow-up math to calculate if your supplies meet the “one gallon per family member per day for at least three days standard”), and help prepare the family safe room with favorite comfort and entertainment items and preferred snacks. Do your best to work their suggestions into your plans.
During the storm, find ways to involve and even educate them in age-appropriate ways. When my kids were little, their dad and I used to encourage them to pre-select a hurricane-themed STEM project that we could do together. Together we built DIY AC systems, made hurricanes-in-a-jar, and experimented with how long we could keep things cold using different systems. This kept the kids occupied in a productive way and encouraged them to think of these storms not only as scary weather systems but also as opportunities to learn.
And last but not least, the aftermath of a hurricane often involves a lot of clean-up and reorganization. Find ways to safely involve your kids, whether it’s sorting canned foods, picking up yard debris, or cleaning up living spaces. This sense of contribution can lift their spirits and make them feel like valuable members of the family team.
As a mom, hurricane preparedness is not just about checking things off a list; it’s a mindset that requires us to consider the physical, emotional, and even sensory needs of each individual family member. The practical, less obvious strategies that I’ve offered in this post can transform your hurricane preparations from simple emergency responsiveness into a comprehensive strategy that can bring comfort in the midst of chaos.
Thanks for reading and stay safe out there!
Links you might like:
Hurricanes | Ready.gov