If you’re anywhere near the gulf coast, you have probably had your fair share of experience with hurricanes. We all know the fear and uncertainty of watching the news as the storm moves across the gulf while trying to decide where it’s going to land. Let’s talk about going through a hurricane with small children. There are a few things to keep in mind and prepare for with kids that you wouldn’t normally do.
#1 LISTEN TO YOUR LOCAL NEWS AND AUTHORITIES
The best place to get your information is by watching your local news and listening to your local authorities. As we saw with Katrina back in 2005, many people thought the storm wouldn’t be as bad as it was being predicted, so they didn’t evacuate. I’d like to say that we’ve had our share of hurricanes since then so we know better. Prepare and protect your home as you are being told to do. Be prepared to evacuate if necessary. The last thing we want is to be stranded with our small children with no power or water. I’d get on a hotel booking website and book a refundable room just in case you need to up and run. You’ve probably seen in the past how far away and how quickly hotels book up when there’s a storm.
Weather and news outlets tend to prepare us for the worst so that we can be ready. Listen and watch what they say. Take the necessary precautions. I think I can speak for us all when I say I’d much rather be prepared for the worst and have it turn out not so bad than not being prepared for the severity of the storm, especially with children.
Your local new outlet will likely be posting and sharing the latest information as it comes to them. When you need things like sandbags, finding the best evacuation route, finding an open store, etc., they will be who to turn to.
#2 MAKE YOUR GROCERY RUNS EARLY AND GET ALL YOUR ESSENTIALS
If you have small children, be sure to get to the store early to stock up on essentials like formula, bread, milk, eggs, water, etc. As the storm gets closer, people start to panic buy everything they can get their hands on. You don’t want to be stuck without formula or milk for your baby.
Fill up your tanks with gas as early as you can and conserve it if possible. You’ll need that gas to evacuate if needed, but you might also need to just sit in your car for some A/C or to charge your phones if you lose power. If you have a generator, be sure to have plenty of gas for it. If you are using a generator, be sure to have it running OUTSIDE your home and away from any open windows. Running a generator inside or too close to an open window puts you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Emergency services will likely be assisting other people in the aftermath of the storm, or the roads may be blocked. They may not be able to get to you as quickly as they normally would.
Be sure to have plenty of water for your and your family. Many sources recommend having 3-4 gallons per person in your household, but only you know the amount of water that you and your family needs. I suggest that if you see that the storm is going to be worse than predicted and you can’t make it to the store, begin boiling water on your stove and storing it in pots, bowls, or whatever you have available. Also fill up your bathtubs with water so that you can flush your toilets if you lose water in the storm. Be very careful to keep the doors closed when not in the bathroom so your small children don’t get in.
Buy paper plates and bowls so that you can just throw them away instead of piling up your sink.
Stock up on batteries for flashlights, sound machines, lanterns, toys, etc. If you have a Sam’s Club or Costco near you, I suggest buying batteries here in bulk. They are a little better deal than buying them at Wal-Mart. A weather radio is also a great tool to have in case you lose power.
#3 PREPARE THE INSIDE OF YOUR HOME
Get caught up on laundry and dishes. Lay out your sandbags along your doors. Set your fridge and freezer to the coolest setting so that if you lose power, the food can stay as cold as possible. Freeze water in ziploc bags so that you can use them for ice packs to keep your food cool.
If you have cooling towels, get those ready so that you can cool yourselves if you lose power.
If you are breastfeeding and have a supply of milk stored in your freezer, check out this post from Kelly Mom on how to preserve your breastmilk supply. They give awesome tips on how to prevent it from thawing and what to do if it does.
If you are formula feeding your baby and have to have hot water but have no power, try setting the water outside in the sun. If the storm has passed but you are still without power, chances are that the sun is out, and it’s hot. This probably won’t get your water as warm as your baby is used to, but it can help.
Gather air mattresses and blankets. Blow them up before the storm hits in case your power goes out and you need to all sleep in one room.
If you have small children that sleep with a sound machine, go out early and buy a battery powered sound machine. If the storm is going to hit in the evening or night, I suggest going ahead and just using it for the night so that you aren’t caught having to scramble in the dark trying not to wake the baby if the power goes out.
Have all your belongings and important information set someplace specific so that you can grab it in a hurry if you need to evacuate.
Being in a hurricane or any kind of big storm is not fun for anyone, especially when there are children involved. If you take the necessary precautions and prepare yourself and your family adequately, it can help things go a little smoother. Hurricanes are something that we on the gulf coast are used to, but it doesn’t make it any less stressful or fun when they do come.
To find resources nearest you, search for local new stations before the storm hits. I suggest making a list of the local radio stations and news outlets and putting it on your fridge. To find the number you can call for local weather forecasts, click here.
Stay safe and informed!