With hurricane Irma on its way toward Florida, I thought this would be a helpful blog for parents who need to prepare for a natural disaster.

 

What you need to prepare for a natural disaster if you have kids:

 

Water:

One gallon per person per day is a good guideline to use as you prepare for a natural disaster. 

Have enough for at least 3-5 days because it can take FEMA a few days to reach you.

If your local store is out of bottled water, buy water bottles from the dollar store and fill them up with tap water.

Fill your bathtub and some buckets with water to use for washing and cleaning. If your kids are younger than 5 years old keep them out of the bathroom unless you are with them.If you have filled buckets make sure they are covered securely and out of reach of your younger children.

Food:

If you have young babies make sure you have enough formula and baby food for at least a week. 

For older kids stock up on canned goods and things that don’t need refrigeration. Peanut butter, protein bars, whole grain cereals, canned or vacuum-packed meats, canned vegetables, fruits, and soups are also good.

Make sure you have a can opener as well as paper plates, cups, utensils, and napkins.

Try to make meals fun. Pretend you are outdoors or on a space ship and having an adventure, or make up stories about what is going on. This will help distract your children from worrying and may make you feel better too. 

During the emergency try to keep your daily mealtime routines as closely as possible. Routine makes children, especially young children, feel more secure.

First aid kit:

Make  sure you have a first aid kit ready as you prepare for a natural disaster:

If your child is on medications make sure you store their medications in water proof containers. If the medications need to be refrigerated a freeze a few ice packs and have a cooler ready in case your electricity gets cut off.

Here is a list of things you want to have in your first aid kit:
  • Gauze bandages in different sizes.
  • A few rolls of crepe bandages.
  • Sterile eye dressings (2 or more).
  • Eye wash.
  • Tape.
  • Band-aids in different sizes.
  • Scissors.
  • Safety pins.
  • A few pieces of cloth to make a sling if necessary.
  • Tweezers.
  • Small magnifying glass.
  • Popsicle sticks to use as splints if needed.
  • Ace bandages.
  • Cleansing wipes, try to get alcohol free wipes.
  • Distilled water to clean wounds with a squeeze bottle you can put it in.
  • Sterile gloves.
  • A digital thermometer.
  • Wash clothes to make compresses if needed.
  • Sunblock.
  • Insect repellant.
  • Pain/fever relievers such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen.
  • Skin rash creams like Benadryl, Calendula, and hydrocortisone.
  • Antiseptics such as triple antibiotic ointment or Neosporin.
  • Antihistamines.
  • Packets of oral rehydration solution in case your baby develops vomiting or diarrhea.
  • A small book on first aid.
  • Keep the number for poison control in the kit, it is 1-800-222-1222 anywhere in the United States.

 

Clothing:

As you prepare for a natural disaster involving water you want to make sure you have enough water resistant clothes for each child: Rain coats, ponchos, rain boots, and water proof hats.

Have some long pants and long-sleeved shirts to protect your child against mosquitos, insects and dirty water.

Have enough diapers and wipes for a few days. You can use the wipes for a lot of different things!

Have a good pair of sturdy shoes and water proof boots for every member of the family.

Hats to protect against the sun.

Enough clothes for 3-5 days.

Extra socks and underwear.

Sleeping bags and blankets.

 

 

 

Keeping your children entertained:

 

 As you prepare for a natural disaster think about the things that will keep your kids happy and busy. These are things you want to make sure you have on hand. 

Keeping busy will distract your children from worrying about what is going on and will give you time to take care of yourself. Self-care is extremely important in emergency situations. When you take the time to care for yourself and your needs, you will have the energy and patience to help your children cope with the stresses of the situation. The better you feel the better you will cope with the emergency and the better your children will cope.

  • Have a collection of your child’s favorite books, toys, and board games with you.
  • Have lots of crayons, paper, and drawing pads ready in water proof containers. Your kids can use them for fun. You may also use them to help your child cope. I will talk about this in next weeks blog. 
  • If you have electronics with you make sure you have the chargers and any extra batteries you may need.
  • Offering your child healthy snacks between meals is a good way to keep your child entertained and to keep their blood sugar stable which will minimize their stress responses. Whole grain crackers and fruit/ vegetable puffs are good snacks for young children and don’t need to be refrigerated. Dried unsweetened fruits, as well as nuts, are appropriate for your older children.

 

Have a safety plan:

  • Make sure your child knows how/when to call 911.
  • You want to make sure your children know how to contact you if you become separated:
    • Teach your older children (above 3-4 years of age) your phone number(s) as well as the address you will be staying at. For younger kids, you may want to write this information in non-toxic marker on their arms or tummy or write it on an index card they keep in their pocket at all times.if you have time get them a bracelet with the information on it.
    • Have a certain place you agree to meet if you get separated.
    • Teach your child who is safe to go with in an emergency: the police, emergency medical personnel, firemen, etc. and identify friends you and they can trust.

 

Personal hygiene:

You may have to leave home as you prepare for a natural disaster so have tooth paste, tooth brushes, soap and shampoo with you.

Have plenty of baby wipes and hand sanitizer on hand for when you do not have access to water. 

In order for hand sanitizer to work as well as soap, you need to remove any visible dirt before you apply it and you need to rub it in until it is dry. 

Keep your daily bathing routine if at all possible even if you just use a washcloth. Routine is very comforting for children. 

Natural disasters cause stress to your whole family, even the babies you think are too young to know what is going on.  Next weeks blog will be about how to talk to your kids about difficult situations in age appropriate ways. In the meantime, remember that the better you cope, the better your kids will cope. Please get all the support you need. It is not selfish to do this!

In the meantime, stay safe and as calm as you can. Taking three deep breaths in through your nose to a count of 3 and out through your mouth to a count of 6 will help relieve stress. Take the time to do this whenever you feel stress building up and teach your children to do this also.

As always I would love to hear from you. Have you had to prepare for a natural disaster? What helped you the most? What would you like your fellow parents to know?

To your holistic health,

Ask Dr. Linda