As every parent knows, bad weather can bring all kinds of difficult scenarios for children and keeping your child safe is the first important thing that comes to mind when watching them venture outside.
Most children don't really understand or care that bad weather has to be prepared for. Tedious though it may seem to your youngster, it is important to stress that they must keep themselves well wrapped against the elements. If you allow your youngster outside without adequate protection then they may suffer unduly from the cold, making them susceptible to cold and flu germs, and it the worst case scenario even pneumonia.
But how do you prepare them for the really bad weather? This is the kind of weather that can develop suddenly, such as a storm front? How to you explain to your children that even though it may be a lovely day and warm and sunny day, it can often change with frightening speed. Do they have a good understanding of what to do if they are caught outside during a storm? How do they cope when faced with lightening and they cannot get home immediately?
Before sending your children out to play it may be well worth having a quick look at the blah blah website, which can give you a really good idea of what type of storms are being tracked at that moment.
To protect your children from weather such as thunderstorms and lightening strike, it all comes down to common sense and remembering to have a little respect for one of the most powerful forces on earth.
You must tell your children that if they are outside in close proximity to a storm the important thing is to get to shelter during the time when the sound of thunder starts to come within 30 seconds after you see lightening and leave it at least half an hour for the storm to pass over. You will have to tell them that their hair may stand on end or they may hear metalwork humming. These are all signs that they may be in danger of hurt by lightening
Of course you can't revolve your life around thunderstorms, but by giving your child a good idea of what an impending storm will look like, may give them precious enough time to get back home and to shelter.
Your child will need to recognize the signs of impending bad weather. They will be able to do this by knowing what type of cloud formations precede a tornado.
If the cloud line has a step like appearance, it is a line of cumulus usually found on the southwest side of the storm - although tornado's here are not usually very powerful it does signal the imminence of a bad thunderstorm.
The wall cloud (or pedestal cloud) will often indicate that a tornado is on the way. Sometimes there is a blackening to the skyline heralded by a greenish tinge to the cloud formation. You can even mention that there may be a "funny smell" in the air, as this is often reported by many observers.
Although wall clouds do not always bring tornado's they can often be seen to have a "tail" cloud. This is a tapering, shifting cloud that extends from the wall cloud to the precipitation.
The funnel shaped cloud extends from the base of a significant cumulus or a cumulonimbus cloud. It is recognizable as a twisting funnel of air, yet it has no contact with the ground. If your child observes this type of cloud, then it is time to get home as quickly as possible. The cloud becomes a tornado as soon as whirling dust and debris become visibly dispersed throughout the funnel.
Tornado's can also be preceded by cool, gusting winds which will sometimes bring dust. Help your child develop their instincts about such scenarios by discussing what they would do when faced with these kinds of elements.
Tell them not to stand next to any high poles such as telegraph poles or flag poles. They are perfect lightening magnets. Tell them keep away from metal structures such as garage doors or metal pylons or fences.
If you are outdoors, the best thing to do is to get into a substantial shelter. A garden shed or tent or dugout is inadequate. You really need to be enclosed in a building that can take "the hit" in case you are struck particularly if you are facing a tornado. If your child cannot get to shelter then they will need to:
Go as low down as possible.
Get into a ditch or depression in the ground and curl into a fetal position.
If they can find a building but are unable to get inside, then they must get as close to the foundations of the building as they can, curl up in a fetal position and cover their head with their arms to protect themselves from flying debris.
If they are facing impending lightening strike then they must assume a squatting position and tuck their arms in close to the body, keeping their your head well tucked down. This will help minimize the effects of a direct strike to the brain and give a clear path down to the earth through body and hopefully avoiding the vital organs.
If there is a bad storm on the way and your child is actually indoors, then there is an emergency procedure that can be adhered to whether you are actually with them or not. Again the most important thing to impress upon your child is that they do not panic. By staying calm they will be able to think clearly and make sensible decisions. Tell them that they will make things worse by panicking.
During a thunderstorm or tornado, the best thing to do is stay indoors. They must go to the lowest level of the building and take shelter in a basement, or storm shelter. Failing this, they can protect themselves by going to an interior room on the lowest floor of your home. They must find something bulky and soft to cover themselves with such as a mattress, couch pillows or rug, and hide under the stairs or under a piece of heavy furniture. Even if they think the danger may have passed, they must stay put until an adult tells them it is safe to move.
If you have children who may be frightened by what is going on around them then you can make things a little easier for them by giving them some kind of autonomy over the situation. The older ones could be put in charge of making sure that the torches and lamps have enough batteries, or that everyone has a small snack to take into the shelter, or even be left in charge of the younger ones whilst preparations are being made. The younger ones could be encouraged to draw a picture or write an account about their experience, which will make an interesting read later on.
Your child is going to see a lot of damage and upset in the aftermath of a bad storm. Seeing buildings torn apart, and cars thrown aside, amid general havoc, will leave a big impression upon their young minds. It is important to stress to them that these are material things that can be mended or replaced, and that the most important thing is that everyone is safe.
Never take a hurricane for granted. No one ever really knows just what kind of damage they are likely to face until it has swept through, so it is understandable that there is going to be a lot of planning and preparation. Especially in regard to keeping family and friends safe from the storm's fury, and helping them come to terms with the aftermath.
Your child will need to understand that hurricanes and tornados are something that we have no control over, and that we still have very little warning when they are going to strike at their worst. It is also important to remind our youngsters that early storm warning systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated and this helps us immensely in regard to just how well we can be prepared, in the face of such adversity.