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CONTACT: Warren May (850) 245-7130

Hurricane Planning Tips from Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Program

TALLAHASSEE -- Linda H. South, Director of the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, which houses the state’s Voluntary Prekindergarten program, reminds parents they have special considerations to take when preparing their children for hurricanes and other natural disasters. In addition to having a family disaster plan and making proper preparations, she says it is important to talk to children about disasters.

“It’s important for parents to discuss storms and other natural disasters with their children,” said Linda H. South, Director of the Agency for Workforce Innovation. “Explain in simple and direct terms to your children that a disaster is something that could hurt people or cause damage. Tell them that the lights or phone might not work for a while but reassure them that there are many people including city and state utility crews, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and other emergency officials who will be available to help after the disaster. After the disaster, it’s important to ask your children how they are feeling and allow them to fully express those feelings,” South added.

Here are some specific ways to reduce your child’s fear and anxiety before and after a disaster:

  • Keep the family together as much as possible.
  • Calmly and firmly explain the situation. As best as you can, tell children what you know about the disaster.
  • Explain to the best of your knowledge what will happen next.
  • Encourage children to talk. Let them talk about the disaster and ask questions as much as they want. Encourage them to describe what they are feeling and listen to what they say.
  • Assure fearful children that you will be there to take care of them.
  • Include children in recovery activities.
  • As soon as possible, resume your former routines.
  • Let them have some control, like choosing what meal to have for dinner.
  • Allow them special privileges such as leaving a light on when they sleep.
  • Carefully monitor the television. News coverage of disasters—especially if children see their own town or school on TV – can be traumatic to children of all ages.

Floridians are also reminded that Early Learning Coalitions around the state are an integral part of the state’s emergency response team.

“The Early Learning Coalitions work closely with other community support services sharing information and preparing for emergency situations. They assess damage to child care facilities and family child care homes and coordinate with schools, hospitals, and other community resources to share information with community members,” she said.

That information includes helping with temporary childcare for families in need of assistance, giving information on financial assistance for childcare and identifying community resources for family services.

For more information about your community's Early Learning Coalition and childcare resource and referral office, call or 1-866-FLREADY or 1-866-357-3239 (TTY: 711).

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Last updated: August 29, 2006

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