Preparing Children For Storms

Preparing Children For Storms

If you’re a parent, there’s a better than average chance that you’ve woken to a bolt of lightning and a clap of thunder followed immediately by the sounds of little feet running down the hallway needing a comforting hug. Storms, especially severe ones, can be scary even for adults, making it doubly terrifying for kids.

The same holds true for the preparations and aftermath as well. I can vividly remember at the age of seven being pulled out of bed in the middle of the night because a tornado had touched down near our home. I was thrust into the bathtub with the mattress from my bed to cover my head while it sounded like a freight train ran through the home.

As scary as that moment was, heading outside after the storm passed to see the large poplar tree I loved to play in laying across the yard, and all surrounding yards full of debris was almost scarier. After that night, anytime the evening news included a forecast that mentioned an approaching storm, it was a cause for my heart to start racing in fear. This is precisely why I’ve decided that this blog series about storm season must include information on preparing our children for storms.

As is the case with all things related to childhood development, each new stage of growth gives different levels of understanding and reasoning with everything that goes on around us in the world. As the parent to both a toddler and a college kid currently, I see vastly differing reactions from each of them when anything rocks the status quo. My older one loves to hear the thunder and says he sleeps best when it is storming, while my youngest one gasps with every lightning bolt and runs for cover.

We tend to monitor the weather during storm season in my house (old adjuster habits are hard to break). I’ve noticed that when we discuss storms in front of the little one, he is very attentive to what was being said. Furthermore, going into a deep dive with storm season discussions and preparations has made it easier for him. As such, here are my favorite tips and tricks to making this storm season seem less threatening for those we hold dear.

Preparation Is The Fun Part

Kids love to be included in household happenings, and so as you prepare for storm season, this is an incredible opportunity to help your little one understand that an ounce of prevention is priceless. When it’s time to start making that storm kit (see our video below), it’s a great time to involve your kids to pick out a cool flashlight, add some of their favorite non-perishable snacks, and pack a book or their favorite game as well.

For kids who are learning their numbers or colors, this is a great opportunity to integrate those skills – count how many of an item are going in and identify the colors of the items you’re packing. For kids that are a little older, graphing out daily high and low temps or tracking the daily forecast can be a way to feel like they have a better understanding of what the weather may bring. If you are in an area prone to tornadoes or hurricanes, simply working together to make sure they understand what will happen during a storm can become a game by creating a “Storm Safety Map” that details what steps they should take to get to a designated safe spot. It is helpful to chant a rhyme – When you see the clouds and the sky gets loud, come inside it’s time to hide, in the middle of the house as quiet as a mouse, we’ll duck for cover till the storm is over!

Infotainment Resources

Let’s face it, knowledge is power on many topics and this one is no different. I don’t know many kids that want to sit down and read a research paper or weather briefing (or even a super fun blog like this one), but there are plenty of fun resources out there in the form of books, shows, and games, which you’ll find linked below. For the toddlers, my favorite book is “When The Storm Comes” by Linda Ashman. This book stays on my toddler’s bedtime story repeat list at his request and gives a lilting narrative from the point of people and animals about staying safe and being thankful that everyone is safe when the storm passes. Another good one on a pre-K story-based level is “Just A Thunderstorm” by Gina and Mercer Mayer, and I find this to be an easy relatable Little Critter tale.

For the elementary school age kids, I also really love “Fly Guy Presents Weather” by Tedd Arnold. This tale is less story based and more like a science primer, but is entertaining even for my 3-year-old, including great photos and simplistic explanations for everything from hail to typhoons. For older kids towards middle school age, I would heartily recommend “Looking Up” by Matthew Cappucci. This is a nonfiction retelling of storm chasing by a self proclaimed, ‘Weather Nerd’ and is an easy read that is very engaging.

If your child isn’t so much into reading, there are shows for all ages as well. For the pre-K crew, Blippi has some great videos about the weather in general, but has an episode that touches heavily on storms, and so does Daniel Tiger. For elementary aged kids, Sid the Science Kid has an episode called Weather Kid Sid that digs into storms. If you like some old school nostalgia, The Magic Schoolbus has a great storm episode (plus, Ms. Frizzle is a quirky redhead, so I identify easily with her). For older kids, Nat Geo has tons of great videos on weather that are entertaining but also very educational and stunning to watch from a photography standpoint.

Since we are living in 2023, you know we need to talk about video games and apps as well! For the youngest crowd that are just starting to figure out tapping, Marco Polo Weather is a good introductory app full of fun content. For elementary aged kids, Kid Weather is an app designed by a 6-year-old and his meteorologist dad, and Kids Discover Extreme Weather shares a lot of information about lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, and climate change. For your middle school aged kids, I could not write this blog without taking a moment to encourage Disaster Master, which is a FEMA sponsored game that teaches disaster preparedness, and Scijinks which is a NASA based game, both computer based. Lastly, Weather-Wise is a great app as well with lots of information and gorgeous artwork.

Safeguarding Your Success

Storms are always going to be an event that our children will encounter. As much as we would like, as parents we can’t always erase the anxiety that kids have when the weather turns rough. We can however give them all the tools possible to feel prepared and safe, even in the worst of weather events. Contact Sentinel today to learn more about Safeguarding Your (and your kids’) Success.

Share on LinkedIn

About The Author

Sherri Walker manages the efforts and deliverables of carrier claims adjusters in addition to completing a wide range of insurance claims analyses as Sentinel’s Director of Claims.

Sherri, who has a wealth of multi-line adjuster experience, brings a strong background in customer satisfaction with the ability to diffuse difficult, and sometimes extremely emotional, situations very smoothly.

The Cripple Creek, VA native began her career with Nationwide Insurance in 2005 where she advanced to a Senior Adjuster role. Prior to joining Sentinel, Sherri spent seven years as a Field Claims Superintendent, handling all aspects of claims for Cincinnati Insurance Companies.