Skip Navigation LinksHurricanes-Tornadoes-and-Storms

Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and Storms

 

The Hurricane Season runs from June 1 through November 30 each year. Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds, and tornadoes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides details on active weather alerts and national weather forecast maps.

To protect children, dangerous situations related to extreme temperatures, must be monitored. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer strategies on preparing for and responding to tornadoes. Please see "Americas PrepareAthon", a nationwide, community-based campaign for action to increase emergency preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions and exercises conducted at the national level every fall and spring.​

After a severe storm or hurricane, offices or clinics may become sites for care if area hospitals are unable to provide services. Prepare your office ahead of time for an increase in patients by reviewing the American Academy of Pediatrics Preparedness Checklist for Pediatric Practices.

Preparing for Hurricane Season

It is never too early to begin preparing yourself for hurricane season. Hurricanes don't only affect people living along the coast. One initial idea is to create a Disaster Supply Kit for your home and your car. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that families also develop a written disaster plan and that parents discuss these plans with their children. See the HealthyChildren.org How to Prepare for Disasters Web page for more information.

Also see Let's Get Ready!: Planning Together for Emergencies and FEMA for Kids. If a hurricane is coming, it is critical to heed directions from officials about voluntary and mandatory evacuations. Those affected by or recovering from a hurricane or storm can Apply for Assistance, search for a Disaster Recovery Center, or locate information regarding power outages. Furthermore, RX Response can help you locate open pharmacies during a major disaster.​

Keep Families Together

Children receive more appropriate and more effective care when they are accompanied by a parent or other caregiver. Children should not be separated from their families or caregivers to the maximum extent possible during evacuation, transport, sheltering, or the delivery of other services. If separation was unavoidable, children should be reunited with their families or caregivers as soon as possible. In particular, children must be transported with at least one parent or caregiver during evacuation of medical facilities.​

Shelter and Other Temporary Care Situations

When emergency sheltering or relocating is required, children will need protection from hazards, direct supervision, and assistance with feeding and personal hygiene tasks. Consider the following suggestions for shelter and temporary care:

  • Staff and volunteers who help in shelters should receive training and resources regarding the care and needs of children. Standards and Indicators for Disaster Shelter Care for Children provide guidance to shelter managers and staff who ensures children have a safe, secure environment during and after a disaster. Emergency shelter staff and volunteers may also refer to the Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect in Disaster Emergency Shelters curriculum.
  • When children are cared for in shelters or other temporary care situations, child-specific supplies must be provided, including safety-approved cribs, children's clothing of various sizes, formula and bottles, water, baby food, feeding utensils, etc. Refer to Supplies for Infants and Toddlers in Mass Care Shelters and Emergency Congregate Care Facilities for more information.
  • Feeding plans should stress the special needs of infants and young children for breast milk, formula, and baby food. Plans must describe how clean water, bottles, and other necessary feeding equipment will be provided. See the AAP Infant Feeding in Disasters and Emergencies for more information.
  • It is important to develop potential activity plans tailored to children of different ages. Consider keeping age-appropriate toys and books on hand. For older children, a list of activity ideas, responsibilities, and job tasks may be helpful.
  • If you or someone you know is looking for a friend or relative who may have been displaced by storms, visit the "FEMA How Do I Find My Family" page. Shelter information is also available through the American Red Cross Web site.
  • To search for open shelters, text SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362. For example, if you lived in Washington, DC, you would text SHELTER 20472.

​Protect Children During Natural Disasters

Children have ongoing needs that must be addressed in a disaster. Protecting children becomes even more challenging when temperatures become extreme.

  • Children must be transported with at least one parent or caregiver.
  • When children are separated from their caregivers (whether because of displacement or medical evacuation), they require priority assistance.
  • When children are exposed to situations that are traumatic they may have difficulty understanding or may develop a range of stress-related symptoms. Adults may need to take steps to promote adjustment and help children cope.
  • Child care programs and schools must have plans to keep students safe, notify parents if sheltering in place or emergency evacuation is required during school hours, and reunite children with their families.
  • Talking to children before an emergency or disaster helps them to be prepared and develop strategies for coping with emergencies and everyday life.

Adults involved in clean-up efforts should consider how children might be impacted. Potential issues include habitability and the contamination of food and drinking water. Schools and play areas will also need to be cleaned and disinfected before children are allowed to return. See Flood Recovery for more information.

Protecting Children and Youth with Special Needs

Special considerations need to be taken into account when preparing children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) for disasters. Ensure that every family has a Disaster Supply Kit. Certain components of the Disaster Supply Kit might be particularly important for children with special health care needs, or additional items may need to be added. Encourage families of CYSHCN to develop written preparedness plans in the event they are faced with a sudden emergency or disaster. Also consider the emotional needs of CYSHCN. The AAP's Promoting Adjustment and Helping Children Cope Web page offers more information and helpful resources related to coping and adjustment.

Other Resources

​For more information about the AAP Disaster Preparedness Initiatives, please e-mail DisasterReady@aap.org.​

print