Get Your Special Needs Child Storm Ready!

Jun 18, 2021 | Children's Health

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Help reduce anxiety by having a plan in place for the family should a storm threaten the state again this season.

Why wait until a storm is threatening the state? With hurricane season officially upon us until November 30, there’s no time like the present to make sure your family is ready for whatever comes our way.

Granted, the process may seem a little daunting, especially for parents of children with special medical needs. But, it doesn’t have to be. Have your children play an active role in storm preparation. Know how far in advance to begin preparations, then decide what to prepare now and what to pack later. Having a set game plan can go a long way to relieving stress and anxiety for both you and your children.

Here are 10 kid-friendly, storm-prep tips to get you started:

  1. Talk to your kids now about how your family might respond in an emergency. Stick to age-appropriate language. Give them a chance to explain how they are feeling and answer any questions they may have. Continue to validate any feelings or perceptions they share. The discussion can reduce anxiety and stress you both are feeling.
  2. Practice makes perfect. Rehearse an evacuation plan several times before severe weather threatens your region. This is a good rule of thumb for all types of emergencies. Kids can also help make plans for pets during the storm. This can help kids feel assured that their beloved animals will be safe.
  3. Secure needed medical supplies. Fill your child’s prescriptions. Get extra items for any medical devices, so you don’t run out while the community works to recover. Also, keep copies of your children’s doctors’ phone numbers and instructions for operating the medical equipment.
  4. Create a master packing list.
    1. Don’t forget necessities, like personal care items and a stuffed animal or another comfort item your child can take with them wherever they go.
    2. In a resealable plastic bag or another waterproof container, place your child’s medication, insurance card, medical documents, and contact information for next of kin.
    3. Set aside a duffle or other large bag for orthotics, medical equipment, etc.
    4. Stay energized. Secure a ready supply of batteries and chargers. Ensure your devices have a full charge before you lose electricity.
  5. Sensory sensitivity kit. Pack earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, a plush blanket, sunglasses, and other items that can help to reduce sensitivity to loud noise and flashing light created by thunder, lightning, and high winds.
  6. Game on. You may lose electricity, so pack silly putty, board games, cards, and other options to help pass the time or distract your child from the chaos outside.
  7. Meal prep. Storms seem to be the perfect time for attacking the snacks and sweet stash. But, children with special medical needs often have a specific diet to follow. Pack approved, ready-to-eat items that are easy to transport, so they have something healthier to munch on when the cravings hit.
  8. Watch for storm anxiety symptoms. This may be a greater factor this year in the wake of the active season last year with several storms affecting much of the Louisiana gulf coast. Symptoms can include children who are trembling, overly clingy, afraid to be alone and overly whiny. Assure your child they are safe and loved. Encourage them to express their feelings. Discover more options here
  9. Limit news and social media exposure. Both can be filled with projections, predictions, and speculation that may make things seem worse than they are. It’s important to stay informed, so don’t ignore news updates to ensure you have appropriate time to react, if necessary. Rather, keep in mind that too much information often fuels anxiety. This is a good tip for you, too.
  10. Keep your cool. Pretending everything is OK in an emergency may be confusing to a child with autism or another cognitive impairment. Assure your child that you are keeping the family safe.

To learn more about preparing your children for storms, click here.

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