How to Talk to Kids About Hurricanes

If you are born and raised in Southeast Louisiana, you are no stranger to hurricanes. If you have recently moved to New Orleans with kids, we have a robust moving guide to help smooth the transition. Since hurricane season spans from June 1 through November 30, preparing for hurricanes is generally an accepted way of life here. For our children, the introduction to the chaos can be unsettling to say the least. Some parents will choose to evacuate or make a vacation out of the escape, but many will stay. At New Orleans Mom, we know hurricanes create varying degrees of stress, depending on your past experience with them. Remember that there is a rainbow after every storm and with time, you may even find beauty after the mayhem. When making your plans, don’t forget about your pets. Avoid decision paralysis and start formulating how you will plan for and talk with your kids about hurricanes.

How to Talk to Kids About Hurricanes

The approach you take to talking with your kids about hurricanes depends on many factors including their age, personality and the severity of the impending storm. Regardless of whether you evacuate or hunker down, as a parent you may have to talk with your kids about your plan and what they can expect.

Consider the Children’s Ages

When a hurricane is looming in the Gulf, the way you speak to your kids will largely depend on their age. When Hurricane Ida was heading for us in 2021, the way I spoke with my 9 and 8 year olds differed greatly from my conversation with my 4 year old. For the older two, I explained that it would be like a big thunderstorm and there would be lots of wind and rain. I explained that we needed to clean up everything on the outside of our house that could fly away in the wind because it might hurt us or someone else. I told them we would probably lose electricity, but we’d all have our flashlights and we’d have a slumber party in mom and dad’s room. I remained calm, kept the constant news loop off of the tv, and answered questions as honestly and simply as possible. I wanted them to know we had to prepare without increasing the anxiety of the unknown.


Create a Family Plan

If you live along the Gulf Coast, you know that you have to plan for hurricanes. The plan devised between my husband and me, as the adults in the household, was obviously more in depth than the “plan” discussed with my children. We privately discussed the various scenarios of when, if, or where we would evacuate. With the kids, we let them know our biggest concern was to be safe. We assured them we were listening to the weather people and our city leaders, and if at any point we felt we could not be safe in our house, we would go somewhere safe.

Once we ultimately decided to shelter in place, we made a plan for when the bad weather arrived. The kids would have a slumber party in our closet (it was the most interior room, free of windows, where we would be safest in the event of a tornado). They did not know every element of that plan, but rather they thought they were having a fun campout in mom and dad’s room.

Assemble a Hurricane Home Kit and a Evacuation Kit

By very nature, hurricanes are unpredictable. Our family  plan to shelter in place turned out to be just as unforeseeable. As such, it is important that you put together an at home Hurricane Kit which, as the name suggests, contains everything you will need to shelter in place safely, an also an evacuation hurricane kit (a family binder, a hurricane box or some combination of the two). For Hurricane Ida, our family had to evacuate during the storm to higher ground due to rising flood waters. Luckily, we had created an evacuation hurricane kit combination that contained copies of vital documentation and paperwork that we ultimately needed as our home did flood. Whether you create a Hurricane Binder or box, make sure you have those critical documents and items nearby and ready to grab in the event of an evacuation.

Depending on their age, you can also allow your kids to pack their own evacuation bag. Since we evacuated in a hurry, wading through flood waters, it was a relief for my kids to open the bags they packed to their precious possessions, favorite clothes, lovies etc. It gave them a sense of control over what they had with them while we had to be away from “home.”

Addressing Anxiety

An approaching hurricane can cause panic in most of us, and our children are no exception. Bad weather is typically uncomfortable and worrisome. When you add in continuous news coverage, worried parents, and frantic preparations, it is no surprise that our children absorb and express feelings of anxiousness. It is important to identify and recognize the anxiety felt by our kids. In our family, I acknowledged their feelings as normal and allowed them to ask any questions and express their concerns freely without judgment or trying to suppress those worries. I tried to reassure them that their safety was my main priority, and I would always make every decision based on keeping them safe. I admitted that I felt similar as a kid but reminded them I grew up here, and we would be ok because we had a plan and we would stick to it. I also reminded them that if anything happened to our “stuff,” it would be ok because all things are replaceable but that we would make sure we were always safe no matter what. Remember when the storm is over, there still may be tough conversations to be had.

Helpful Links ::

Helping kids through hurricane trauma

Preparing children mentally for hurricane season

Tips on how to ease anxiety in kids during hurricane season

Involve your kids

We involved our kids in much of the planning. Below is a list of how to get them involved:

  • Everyone pitch in to clean up all of our outdoor items
  • Let them set up their “campsite” in the designated safe space if you are sheltering in place
  • Have them pack their own bag in case of evacuation
  • Allow them to keep their favorite personal items nearby
  • Shop for hurricane snacks together
  • Bake brownies or cookies
  • Let them stage the house with candles and flashlights
  • Have board games and puzzles accessible for fun play when the electricity goes out


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