Natural disasters are phenomenon that are often unpredictable and can be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. The best way to prepare for a natural disaster is to have a plan BEFORE something happens. You should discuss these plans with your kids and make them aware of what is happening. Disasters can be a scary for anyone, and especially for children who may not understand what is going on. Keeping them informed and prepared is a great way to overcome future fears when a disaster may unfortunately arrive. ​ Below are some helpful tips to prepare for disasters and to help children cope with these fears of disasters:

Be Prepared

  • Wherever you live, it’s good to be prepared for an emergency. You’ve probably already experienced something like this — maybe the power went out for a long time or there was a big thunderstorm.

  • Families can take simple steps to be prepared for an emergency, like having a battery-powered radio, flashlights, bottled water, and extra food on hand.

  • Knowing your family has a plan can help you feel more safe and secure. Grownups are in charge of  these plans, but you can ask your parents if they have a plan and an emergency kit.

  • Some preparations are the same for everyone (flashlights, etc.), but other plans will be different depending on which kind of problem might affect your area. For instance, if you live where there are tornadoes sometimes, the plan means knowing to listen to the radio for tornado warnings and to go to the safest part of the house until it passes.

  • If your family wants to know more about being prepared, organizations like the American Red Cross can help.

  • In a bad storm or serious disaster, it’s important to remember that lots of people are looking out for you, including parents, police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, and other people who are trained to handle emergencies. When a disaster happens, you’ll see these people on the news helping people.

What You Can Do

Seeing that people in a disaster are being taken care of can make us feel a little better. But what else could you do if you’re feeling worried, upset, or just curious? Here are some ideas:

  • Talk about your feelings.

    • It’s good to share what you’re feeling with a parent or another trusted adult. It’s OK to ask questions and wonder about why this happened. It’s also OK to feel sad, even if you don’t live near where the disaster happened. Get a few extra hugs from your mom or dad too

  • Be creative.

    • It may sound funny, but drawing a picture or writing a poem can be helpful in sad times. Why? Because you get to express how you’re feeling.

  • Limit radio, Internet, and TV reports.

    • It can be hard to avoid news about what’s happening. But too much of it isn’t good for kids or grownups. Remind your mom and dad about this too.

    • What can you do instead? Anything that makes you feel good — go outside, read a book, make a craft.

  • Help others.

    • It’s a great idea to find a way to get involved. Not only will you help people who need food, clothes, and shelter, but you’ll feel better because you’re lending a hand.

    • You might raise money or gather supplies through your church or school, or by giving to a disaster relief organization, such as:

American Red Cross, or (800) HELP-NOW

Save the Children, or (800) 728-3843

UNICEF, or (800) 4UNICEF

  • Know that healing will happen.

  • Now you know it’s normal to feel sad about disasters, even if you’re fine and live far away. You should also know that the sad feelings you have will get better over time.

  • And hard as it is to believe, even people who lost the most in a disaster will feel better someday. It will take a long time, but they will slowly heal thanks to the people who help and care for them.

How to Prepare for Certain Types of Disasters in Florida


  • Hurricanes are unfortunately quite common living in Florida, but luckily enough we can predict their impact before the storm makes landfall, giving us a major advantage against this super storm.

  • From their strong winds to their dangerous storm surges, it is extremely important to be prepared BEFORE a hurricane reaches Florida’s coastlines.

  • Below you will find some steps outlined by the the Department of Homeland Security on how to prepare for a hurricane (additional information can be found at www.ready.gov)

Preparation BEFORE a Hurricane

Step 1- Know your Risk

  • Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Find out how rain, wind, water could happen where you live so you can start preparing now.

  • Determine your risk by going to the National Weather Service website and finding out your risk for your location. You can check for certain hurricane-related risks including storm surge, rip currents, inland flooding, and tornado risks by clicking on this link: https://www.weather.gov/wrn/2020-determine-your-risk

Step 2- Make an Emergency Plan

  • Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands your hurricane plan.

  • Don’t forget a plan for the office, kids’ daycare, and anywhere you frequent.

  • You can find an Emergency Plan Outline link at the bottom of the page with step by step instructions on creating your family’s specific plan.

  • Print out the Emergency plan and discuss it yearly with the entire family. Everyone in the family should know where the emergency kits are and where the plan is at all times in case of an immediate emergency

Step 3 – Gather Supplies

  • Basic supplies include: 

    • Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation)

    • Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)

    • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert

    • Flashlight

    • First aid kit

    • Extra batteries

    • Whistle (to signal for help)

    • Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)

    • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)

    • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)

    • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)

    • Manual can opener (for food)

    • Local maps

    • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

  • Additional emergency supplies to consider:

    • Cloth face coverings (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces

    • Prescription medications

    • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives

    • Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution

    • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream

    • Pet food and extra water for your pet

    • Cash or traveler’s checks

    • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container

    • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person

    • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes

    • Fire extinguisher

    • Matches in a waterproof container

    • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

    • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils

    • Paper and pencil

    • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Step 4- Plan for those with disabilities

  • You will need to formulate a plan that addresses the child’s disabilities and prepare accordingly

  • You may need to bring additional supplies and be even more prepared in case of an emergency

  • More detailed information on this can be found here: https://www.ready.gov/disability

Step 5- Know your evacuation zone and your specific routes

  • Know your individual evacuation zones before an emergency and keep up to date with weather alerts

  • More information on evacuations can be found here: https://www.ready.gov/evacuation

Step 6- Review important documents

  • Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents like ID are up to date. Make copies and keep them in a secure password protected digital space.

Step 7- Strengthen your home

  • Declutter drains and gutters, bring in outside furniture, consider hurricane shutters.

Stay Safe DURING a Hurricane

Stay Informed

  • Listen for emergency information and alerts.

  • If told to evacuate by local officials, do so immediately.

Dealing with the Weather

  • Determine how best to protect yourself from high winds and flooding.

  • Take refuge in a designated storm shelter, or an interior room for high winds.

  • If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water.

  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

  • Stay off bridges over fast-moving water.

AFTER a Hurricane

  • Listen to local officials for information and special instructions.

  • Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing and work

  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.

  • Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.

  • Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.

  • Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance.


Tornadoes can destroy buildings, flip cars, and create deadly flying debris. Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can:

  • Happen anytime and anywhere;

  • Bring intense winds, over 200 MPH; and

  • Look like funnels.

Tornado Warning: A warning means that a tornado has been seen or picked up by radar

Tornado Watch: A watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to occur

Step 1: Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s tornado risk. In the U.S., the Midwest and the Southeast have a greater risk for tornadoes.

  • Know the signs of a tornado, including a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud, a Mammatus cloud formation, and a wall cloud. Watch for an approaching cloud of debris, or a loud roar—similar to a freight train.

  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. If your community has sirens, then become familiar with the warning tone.
  • Pay attention to weather reports. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado.
  • Identify and practice going to a safe shelter in the event of high winds, such as a safe room built using FEMA criteria or a storm shelter built to ICC 500 standards. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of a sturdy building.

Step 2: Survive DURING

  • Immediately go to a safe location that you identified.

  • Take additional cover by shielding your head and neck with your arms and putting materials such as furniture and blankets around you.

  • Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.

  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle.

  • If you are in a car or outdoors and cannot get to a building, cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body with a coat or blanket, if possible.

Step 3: Be Safe AFTER

  • Keep listening to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, and local authorities for updated information.

  • If you are trapped, cover your mouth with a cloth or mask to avoid breathing dust. Try to send a text, bang on a pipe or wall, or use a whistle instead of shouting.

  • Stay clear of fallen power lines or broken utility lines.

  • Do not enter damaged buildings until you are told that they are safe.

  • Save your phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messaging or social media to communicate with family and friends.

  • Be careful during clean-up. Wear thick-soled shoes, long pants, and work gloves.


  • If you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately.

  • Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar.

  • If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level.

  • Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.

  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.

  • Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.

  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.


Thunderstorms and lightning strikes occur almost everyday in Florida, giving us the nickname the Lightning Capital. Knowing how to be safe during these storms is important for any child to learn growing up in Florida.

Additional information on these storms can be found at https://www.ready.gov/thunderstorms-lightning

Lightning is a leading cause of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Thunderstorms are dangerous storms that include lightning and can:

  • Include powerful winds over 50 MPH;

  • Create hail; and

  • Cause flash flooding and tornadoes


  • When thunder roars, go indoors!

  • Move from outdoors into a building or car.

  • Pay attention to alerts and warnings.

  • Unplug appliances.

  • Do not use landline phones.

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s risk for thunderstorms. In most places, they can occur year-round and at any hour.

  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.

  • Identify nearby, sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study, and play.

  • Cut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home.

  • Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.

Survive DURING

  • When thunder roars, go indoors.

  • A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.

  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans, if necessary, to be near shelter.

  • When you receive a thunderstorm warning or hear thunder, go inside immediately.

  • If indoors, avoid running water (ex: taking a shower) or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines.

  • Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices. Secure outside furniture.

  • If boating or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.

  • If necessary, take shelter in a car with a metal top and sides. Do not touch anything metal.

  • Avoid flooded roadways. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.


  • Listen to authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it is safe to go outside and instructions regarding potential flash flooding.

  • Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.

  • Static electricity can remain in the air following a thunderstorm. Don’t go outside immediately after a storm and if you still hear thunder in the distance. Best to be safe, rather than sorry