Preparing for storms and heading back to school

  • Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Get ready for hurricanes and heading back to school!

What a combination, but yes, that is the timing in our neck of the woods. We have our second named hurricane to remind us that now is the time to get ready. At the same time, it is time to adjust bedtimes, organize school clothes, school supplies and school schedules.

Dear Liz,

We are new to the area. Our children (ages 8 and 12) watch the weather and ask us what we'll do. I've read your suggestion to know if we are in the flooding area and areas that could be required for evacuation. We are. Well, that's as far as I have gotten. My husband is busy with his new job. So, it is up to me.

“Not prepared”

Dear “Not,”

Thank you for your honesty and awareness of the need to be ready. And good for your kids for their interest in weather and the need to plan ahead. Preparedness is a family affair. Your children are of the age and maturity that they can do a lot to contribute to the family preparedness.

Everyone has heard me say, “Don't be scared, be prepared” (now copyrighted and becoming a workbook for families – will keep you posted on that). My second quotation is “Don't be scared, be smart.” And there is a wealth of information on the Internet and throughout our community about exactly how to prepare: 1. Make a plan, 2. Build a kit and 3. Stay informed. For example, this coming weekend (Aug. 8) there is a preparation fair at Johnson Haygood Stadium in Charleston. Organizations like the American Red Cross will have a lot of free information for families and individuals.

Since you are in an evacuation zone, it is important to have emergency plans and kits for staying put AND leaving.

Each family needs to create a special backpack or other container of “go kits.” And don't forget the needs of any pets.

Remember everyone – Red Cross shelters do not accept pets. Charleston Animal Society has tips for pet owners about these considerations. Make family preparedness a fun and ongoing activity. Places to start include: redcross.org and prepare.gov.

Make sure you create plans for all emergencies including house fires, sudden illness of a parent, personal safety and self defense. Once you customize plans for your family, you will have the great peace of mind only preparation and thus self sufficiency (along with faith!) can bring you.

Dear Liz,

We are trying to adjust our children's bedtimes in advance of starting back to school. And it is not going well. Every night is a battle. Help me!


Dear “Insomnia,”

At least you have a sense of humor about it. Yes, you are wise to do this – the opening bell is fast approaching.

The best advice is make the change in 10-20 minute increments each day.

That includes an earlier wake-up call. Waking children up earlier and getting them moving (if possible with something fun) will make them tired enough to go to bed earlier.

Bribery works, too. Be crazy – jump on their beds in the morning and play their favorite music to wake them up.

They will tell their grandchildren about that someday.

Lecturing and “reasoning” does not work. Just make it a fact of their existence: “We are going to bed earlier and getting up earlier to make school easier for you, period.” I believe in black-out drapes (now very inexpensive at places like Wal-Mart) and even changing the clocks in your house. If all else fails, don't stress; they will adapt within two to three weeks once school starts.

If they complain, tell them in a nice tone of voice, “I'm sorry YOU choose to make life hard for yourself by not adjusting to school wake up and bedtimes earlier.”

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 of experience in mental health including serving as a school counselor, and as a consultant and mediator.

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