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Hurricane 2020: A pediatrician explains how to get kids ready for the storm | Column

Dr. Rachel Dawkins of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital offers some tips for parents to get their kids ready for hurricane season.
Dr. Rachel Dawkins is medical director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinics in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatric Medicine.
Dr. Rachel Dawkins is medical director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinics in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatric Medicine. [ John Hopkins All Children's Hospital | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published May 29, 2020

With hurricane season approaching, here are some tips to help parents and families be better prepared.

Make a family plan before a hurricane approaches

Think about your family needs and evacuation plans. Make sure you know your evacuation zone and plan your destination and travel routes ahead of time. Think about where your family can go for shelter and have multiple backup plans in case the path of the hurricane shifts.

Are pets allowed? If you have an infant or toddler, make sure you have plenty of things like formula, diapers and toys or activities to distract young ones.

Related: Hurricane 2020: Seven things to know about a hurricane season like no other

Have essential supplies ready

First aid kits are great for emergencies big and small. And remember, sometimes we may be without electricity for an extended period of time. Your supply kit should include:

Dr. Rachel Dawkins is medical director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinics in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatric Medicine.
Dr. Rachel Dawkins is medical director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinics in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatric Medicine. [ ALLYN DIVITO | Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital ]
  • Water: One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.
  • Food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with tone alert.
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Paper towels, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
Related: Hurricane 2020: Protect your home, business, documents and photos

Be prepared if your child has a chronic medical problem or special needs

For children with medical problems or special needs, make sure you have medications and any medical supplies your child might need. It’s also a good idea to have a summary of your child’s medical history and a list of medications and even a copy of their shot record just in case.

If your child depends on technology such as a ventilator, oxygen or even a nebulizer machine for asthma that requires electricity, think about where you will go to evacuate.

Local health departments will register families ahead of time that require a special needs shelter, so it’s best to look into that in advance of a hurricane.

Make a communications plan

Plan how you will communicate with family members if you lose power and how often, if possible. For example, you can call, text, email or even use social media.

Remember, depending on the intensity of the storm, some of your communication tools may not be available during or after.

Related: Hurricane 2020: Protect your home, business, documents and photos

Explain to your kids what is happening

It’s important to be honest with children and explain what is going on. Focus the level of detail on what’s okay for your child’s age. While tuning in to the news is obviously important for adults to get information about the disaster, coverage may be too much for kids and teens, leading to unnecessary anxiety.

Help keep your children calm during a natural disaster

Empower your kids! Get them involved in the plan — have them help make an emergency kit or gather and test supplies like flashlights. Teach them emergency numbers, including names and phone numbers of a relative that does not live in the home. The most important thing is for the adult to stay calm because children pick up on parents’ fear and anxiety.

More information from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital’s doctors is at www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/ACH-News

Dr. Rachel Dawkins is medical director of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Clinics in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatric Medicine.

2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Protect your home, business, documents and photos

BUILD YOUR KIT: The gear you need to stay safe from the storm — and COVID-19

PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

Lessons from Hurricane Michael

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael

‘We’re not going to give up.’ What a school superintendent learned from Michael

What Tampa Bay school leaders fear most from a storm

Tampa Bay’s top cops fear for those who stay behind