Natural disasters are scary enough, but when you have kids, you have to worry even more if the unthinkable happens. Well before a funnel cloud drops out of the sky, make sure you have identified (and have easy access to) a safe place in your residence. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, head there immediately, even if you don't think that it can happen.
You'll also want to plan ahead. Getting to safety is your number one priority, so it's best if you keep a stash of supplies handy, for both safety and comfort. Keep your cell phone charged and these items on hand where you can grab them on the way to your safe area so you don't have to worry about locating what you need as you dash for cover.
For babies and toddlers, think about comfort. Stash an extra pacifier, store powdered formula and bottled water and keep a favorite lovey (or substitute) nearby. An extra blanket is a good idea because being swaddled or wrapped up will give your baby an extra element of warmth in what may be a frightening situation. Even better, keep a spare baby sling or carrier in your emergency supplies so you'll have your hands free once you can move around after the emergency passes, and if you're breastfeeding, nurse on demand to keep your child hydrated and relaxed.
For you and your older kids, shoes are a must if you can grab them. If your home is damaged or destroyed, you'll risk injury to your feet if you have to walk around, inside or out. Make sure your flashlights have fresh batteries, and test them on a regular basis during storm season — not only are they essential for moving around in a power outage, they will help alleviate fear when the lights are out, and can be used to play games with.
Above all else, it's important to remain calm, if possible, during a tornado emergency. Children look to and often mirror the emotions of their adults, so remaining cool under stress is vital. You don't have to hide your feelings, because it's important for kids to know that adults have emotions too, but keeping up your outward strength while admitting that you're scared, too, will go a long way toward keeping your children calm.
Nobody wants to think that a natural disaster can happen to their family, but with a little planning, you can help maintain some calm in what can be a terrifying situation.
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