When kids reach middle school, they are usually too old for traditional day care. Many are enrolled in summer programs, but a fair number of these kids are home alone during the summer months. Parents need to make sure their children know about basic safety rules like how to answer the door or phone, what to do if the smoke alarm goes off, etc. One thing that is often neglected is an action plan for severe storms. Teach your children the following summer storm safety information:
Know About a Storm Warning
- Your child should understand the difference between a storm watch and warning, and should also understand the dangers of lightning.
- Discuss the next day’s forecast each evening, and if storms are predicted, keep the TV or radio on.
- You may also want to invest in a weather radio and program it for your county, or download an app to your child’s phone that will issue an alert if severe weather is approaching.
- Show your child the location of the storm shelter in your home.
- Provide a flashlight and battery-powered radio in this area.
- Instruct your child to come home immediately from the park or playground if he or she hears thunder.
- Instruct your child to not use the shower, bathtub or other water source during a lightning storm.
- During a lightning storm, stay inside, away from windows.
- If the power goes out, do not use candles for light.
Where to Go During a Storm
- A basement or cellar is the safest place in a storm; if one is not available, go to an interior room on the lowest level, preferably one without windows.
- In an apartment building, the shelter area may be a basement laundry room or a first floor hallway.
- According to the American Red Cross, a mobile home is not a safe place in a storm. If you can get quickly to a building, go there. If your mobile home does not have a shelter building or a building nearby, you will need to come up with an alternate plan for your child.
- If the TV, the radio, storm sirens or a weather app indicates a severe storm in your area, go immediately to the shelter.
- Do not take time to look for pets; pets will usually take care of themselves.
- Never take time to watch the storm or take pictures.
- Crawl under a stairway, under a piece of heavy furniture, or into a bathtub; then cover yourself with pillows or a blanket. Avoid areas that have heavy furniture or appliances on the floor above.
- Instruct your child to stay in the shelter until the all clear is given or until you call and give the OK. Be sure your child understands not to leave the shelter to check on the weather.
What to Do After a Storm
- Unless there is imminent danger inside the house like a fire or gas leak, instruct your child to stay put.
- Dangers from downed power lines, tree limbs, broken glass and other post-storm hazards may still exist.
- Your child should understand that communication may be interrupted for awhile, but you will contact him or her as soon as possible.
The incidence of injury or death from severe weather can be greatly reduced by paying attention to the weather and having a strategy in place. If your child will be home alone this summer, he or she needs to be part of this education and planning.
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