by Susan G. Routh
Ext. Educator/County Ext. Director
Family and Consumer Science
4-H Youth Development
CHICKASHA, Okla. –If there is one thing that holds true, springtime weather in Oklahoma can be volatile. Oklahomans were reassured of that fact with the outbreak of tornadoes recently across the state.
In the event of bad weather, it is important for Oklahoma families to be prepared for what Mother Nature may deliver.
Parents who are prepared for a storm are more likely to be able to assure their children that they will keep them safe. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare. Keep an emergency kit ready since bad weather can arise quickly.
We suggest that parents put together a “disaster kit” for young children that includes a few favorite books, crayons and paper, puzzles, cards, a couple of small toys or stuffed animals, a blanket, pictures of the family and pets or other items that will comfort young children.
Parents must keep in mind that children’s fears stem from their imaginations. It is important for adults to take these fears seriously. Words and actions can provide reassurance to a child who is afraid.
Oftentimes children may fear that after a storm they may be separated from family, the storm may come back, someone will be hurt or possibly killed and that they will be left alone. When talking to your children, be sure to present a realistic picture that is both honest and manageable. Don’t make promises that possibly can’t be kept.
While preparing a disaster kit for the children, prepare one for the adults, too. In addition to bottled water, weather radio, extra batteries and some nonperishable snacks, be sure to include a copy of your children’s complete immunization histories. It is a good idea to include the dates of the latest tetanus-diphtheria shot for all family members.
After the storm has passed, try to avoid overexposing children to news footage of damaged areas. Young children may not realize that it is previous news coverage and may believe the storm is coming back.
Now that we are in the midst of storm season, take some time to sit down with your family and talk about what can happen and how your family is getting prepared. Reassurance that their parents have a plan and will take care of them is so important to children.
For more information about emergency preparedness, contact the Grady County OSU Cooperative Extension Service at 224-2216 or on our website at www.oces.okstate.edu/grady. We are located at 828 W. Choctaw in Chickasha.
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.