While preparing for a storm as an adult can be stressful, but preparing with kids brings anxiety and stress to an entirely new level. Parents not only are concerned with their own wellbeing, they’re responsible for protecting and meeting the needs of their children.
With winter in full swing, it’s essential that parents who live in regions where winter storms are a reality are prepared to keep kids safe. Follow these winter storm guidelines:
1. Winterize the car. Family cars should be ready for winter and winter travel. Snow tires should be put on the car oil and antifreeze should be checked and changed, if necessary. The wipers should be replaced and the gas tank should be kept full to prevent the gas line from freezing. The car should also be stocked with an ice scraper, shovel, ice melt or kitty litter for wheel traction, warm clothes, hats and mittens, snacks and drinks, blankets, a first aid kit, a cell phone charged, a flashlight and flares in case of a winter emergency.
2. Winterize your home. Inspect doors and windows for drafts and seal if necessary, caulk along trim and baseboards, trim back any branches close to the home, get the heating system and water system checked or serviced, add insulation and clear the gutters of debris. Be sure to have shovels and ice melt or sand ready to remove snow and ice.
If you’re using a generator, be sure to keep it at least 10 or 15 feet from the home to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. You’ll also want to only use portable heaters that are approved for indoor use. Use battery operated carbon monoxide detectors to prevent accidental carbon monoxide poisoning when using a fireplace, generator or heat source and never leave it unattended, especially with children in the home.
3. Keep a supply kit ready. Designate a plastic tub in your home for supply storage and fill it with flashlights, batteries, a battery powered radio, waterproof matches, a first-aid kit, a change of clothing and shoes and a blanket, hat and mittens for each person. Keep emergency cash and contents in a sealed plastic bag in the tub.
4. Gather personal care items. Be sure to have medication, diapers, baby wipes, spare pacifiers and swaddle blankets, personal hygiene items and any other care items that would be needed in case of an evacuation. Store them in a waterproof container with the supply kit.
5. Keep storm safe food on hand. Keep a three day supply of water for each person on hand (three gallons per person) and food that won’t go bad and doesn’t need heating, should the power go out. Single servings of apple sauce, granola bars, canned soups, nuts, baby food, dry cereal, peanut butter and other pantry essentials should be stored for storms. Be sure to also have a can opener on hand.
6. Entertainment. When kids have nothing to do, they’ll find something to do. Provide them with low-key activities like travel sized board games, coloring books, paper and crayons and battery operated handheld games. Don’t forget to pack a child’s lovey, if he has one.
Fortunately, parents typically have enough warning to properly prepare for a storm and relocate if necessary. Be sure to follow local and state official’s instructions and heed storm warnings to ensure your family’s safety.