How to prepare your kids for storm season

  • Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer is in full swing! I hope each of you is finding a way to enjoy, and not stress, the demands and fun of summer. (Yes, fun can be stressful.) I have had multiple questions about “trying” to enjoy kids on summer vacation and “trying” to enjoy family coming into town. In addition, newcomers to the area are asking about storm preparations as we’ve watched and said goodbye to Hurricane Arthur as the first month of hurricane season ends.

Dear Liz,

We moved here last fall with three children ages 4, 7, 9. We came from the West, where weather was fairly stable. I’ve noticed that the TV coverage here is thorough and informative. However, my kids pick up on everything and are asking various questions about staying safe. Suggestions?

Not weather wise

Dear “... Weather wise,”

Great question. And I say today’s media-savvy kids have the sharpest of “Eagle Ears” as I call it. They can act like they aren’t listening but pick up on far more than we realize. Preparedness is a family activity. I’ve coined the phrase, “Don’t be scared; be prepared!”

There is a lot available online to help you and your family make a plan, build a kit (or kits), practice the plan, stay informed, and get trained. Sites like www.ready.gov and www.redcross.org can give you specific guidelines.

The time to prepare is NOW, before we have a storm knocking on the door. Each local TV station also has preparation information, as well as stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot.

The most important thing to communicate to children is that you all can stay safe by being prepared and being smart about it. Make it fun. You may want to consider a tour of a local TV station and/or the National Weather Service as a family “field trip” to see how weather is predicted and communicated. A great place to get trained is the local Red Cross Chapter. We have countless area resources. Our emergency management personnel are fantastic. Watch my column for the annual Family Preparedness Fair coordinated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in September. All types of emergency preparation is covered in that multi-community, multi-resource event.

Dear Liz,

Our children and grandchildren come every year for the Fourth of July. As much as we adore our family and sharing all Charleston has to offer, we feel the stress of the minor issues between family members more than ever!

Perhaps we are just getting older and more set in our ways? Still, I’m not happy unless everyone is – and it seems someone is always not happy about something!

Not the Holiday Inn

Dear “Not the Holiday Inn,”

You are not alone; that is more common than you imagine.

A few suggestions: we mamas are usually not OK unless our family is OK – but that ultimately is codependency, which can be painful and exhausting. And then there’s the oft cross-stitched saying, “If mommy ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

Please focus on what YOU can control, and that is primarily how you react to things. I always recommend families clarify rules, expectations and sleeping arrangements prior to the visit. It’s not too late. If someone is unhappy, be logical in evaluating if there is something that can be fixed. If not, all you can say is, “I’m sorry you are not happy about this.”

Also, plan breaks where you can unwind, and families can go “do their own thing.” There can be too much togetherness.

I always think the beach is a great place for kids to play and burn energy. Just always make sure someone is assigned to watch children AND adults in the water.

Build memories. Just pace yourself and try to enjoy the moment. Know you DON’T have to make everything OK!

Please send your questions and comments to asksharpliz@ gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Masters-level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health including serving as a school counselor, and as a consultant and mediator. Liz is known for her many years as a TV news and weather broadcaster, and long-time columnist for the Lowcountry Sun.

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