Calm kids fears during hurricane season

As the hurricane season approaches, we all tend to freak out. Ginormous list of supplies. Complicated evacuation plan. Scary photos on the news. How do you keep the kids from wigging out, too? Holley Wade, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Emergency Management Department, has some advice when kids start asking questions:

Mommy, is our house going to blow away? It's best to tell your kids the truth. Now, try not to scare them, but give them age-appropriate information. "Be honest with them and talk them through it,'' Wade said. "They sometimes know the dangers and the threats better than their parents.'' They need to know that if a hurricane hits, there would be no lights, no air conditioning and no McDonald's, she said. Give them information on your family evacuation plan so they won't be worried about where you are going.

Will I have to eat tuna every day? Get your kids involved in preparing the hurricane kit. "What are some of the things they will eat to keep things normal?'' Wade said. That's important, she said, because you want them to eat. When you go to the grocery store, throw a couple of those things in your basket.

Can I bring blue bunny? Let the kids be responsible for what they want to bring along if you have to evacuate, Wade said. She suggests giving each child a backpack and getting them to put in what they really can't live without. "It is a good time to discuss what things are important for sentimental reasons vs. what things they just have,'' she said. "I can buy another Nintendo game but not another blue bunny from grandma.''

Sherry Robinson can be reached at (727)893-8305 or robinson@sptimes.com.

The Tampa Bay Hurricane Expo will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Tampa's Museum of Science of Industry. Entry into the expo is free, but anyone attending the expo can visit MOSI and see one film in the IMAX Dome Theater for $8. For more information, go to www.tampabayhurricaneexpo.com.

Holley Wade, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Emergency Management Department, suggests these Web sites to help explain hurricanes to kids:

• FEMA for Kids, www.fema.gov/kids, where kids can play games, read stories and become a Disaster Action Kid.

• American Red Cross, www.redcross.org, where you can download a coloring book about disasters and get helpful information for children

Calm kids fears during hurricane season 05/29/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 29, 2008 12:13pm]

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