The likelihood of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes increases as temperatures continue to rise, making it more important than ever to have an emergency plan in place.
First, you should have a safe place in your home to take your family during a storm. It could be the basement, a central closet or a bathroom with no windows. Once you’ve determined the best location for your family, you should have supplies handy to ride out the storm. Below you’ll find storm facts that parents should know, information to share with your kids, coloring pages and a kid-friendly checklist for storms.
Weather Safety for Kids: Storm Facts Every Parent Should Know
- A thunderstorm is considered “severe” when it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter, has winds gusting about 58 mph or produces a tornado in addition to rain and thunder.
- Tornadoes can happen at any time of year and at any time of day. They happen most often in the spring and summer.
- The United States averages 1,200 tornadoes each year, causing approximately 1,500 injuries.
- Six inches of fast-moving water is enough to knock you off your feet and two feet of rushing water can carry away most motor vehicles.
- Tornado wind speeds can range from 40 mph to over 300 mph. The tornado itself can travel anywhere from 30–70 mph.
- Watch for large, dark cumulonimbus clouds. These are tall clouds that produce lightning and tornadoes.
- Stay away from windows. It’s a common belief that opening windows before a tornado equalizes pressure and helps cause less damage. Instead, it puts you near the window, which could break and cause injuries.
Severe Weather Tips: What Every Kid Should Know
Help your kids understand the warning signs of a storm. Explain to them that a “tornado watch” means conditions are right for a tornado, while a “tornado warning” means one has actually been spotted.
If they’re watching TV and their favorite show is interrupted by a weather report, have them notify you of the alert. TV stations often cover a large viewing area, so you may be able to reassure them that the storm isn’t near your house, or you can quickly take action if it is.
Your city may have an outdoor warning system in place for dangerous weather. The system is usually a loud siren that is tested on a set day every month. Have your kids listen to the test so they know what the alarm sounds like for a real emergency.
Download our Free Coloring Pages
Have a Storm Checklist
Talk to your kids about every item on the list and help them understand why each one is important. This way, when a storm does hit, everyone is prepared and on the same page.
Is There a Storm Coming? Here’s What You Need
- Your family. They’re the most important thing in the world. Make sure everyone is together.
- A phone and charger. There may not be great service during a storm but bring a phone in case you need to call for help. Unplug the phone before using it.
- A radio. A radio is the most reliable source of news and updates during a storm. Make sure you have extra batteries.
- A flashlight. The power can go out during a storm. You don’t want to get stuck in the dark!
- Blankets. Blankets offer extra protection from falling debris. They’re also good for snuggling up as a family.
- A helmet. If your bike helmet is handy, bring it with you. It can help keep you a little safer.
- Your pets. Make sure you account for your family pets and can keep your dogs or cats calm during the storm. Storms can be scarier for pets than people.
- A game. A fun game can help pass the time and take your mind off the storm.
Storms strike with little warning. Be prepared and stay informed with our monthly newsletter: sign up here.