Plus, what to say to reassure them during the storm.

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated September 13, 2018
Raleigh News & Observer/Getty Images

As Hurricane Florence, which is currently a category 2 storm, approaches the North Carolina coast, families in the area are quickly preparing for the storm. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm could bring tropical-storm-force winds and there is a storm surge warning in effect for parts of North and South Carolina. With both heavy rainfall expected and potential storm surge, the biggest threat the storm poses is flooding. According to the National Hurricane Center's report at 9 a.m. on Thursday, September 13, the storm was 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and so far about one million people have been asked to evacuate the area. As the storm nears the coast, there are some easy ways to help keep your kids safe and reassure them.

As of Tuesday, Save the Children has assembled a team in North Carolina to help families and children preparing for the storm. The organization has also provided some basic tips for parents, including ways to both help their kids feel emotionally supported and practical steps to ensure their safety. Below, Save the Children shares easy tips for talking to your kids about natural disasters and simple steps you can take to prepare your entire family.

What to Say to Your Kids

  1. Talk About Hurricane Florence: Use simple, age-appropriate words to explain to your children what a hurricane is. Explain that it is a natural event and not anyone's fault.
  2. Reassure Your Kids: Let your kids know that their safety is your top priority and that many caring adults—including parents, teachers, first responders—will be working to keep them safe.
  3. Fill Out Emergency Contact Cards: Along with your kids, fill out cards for each child with their full name, address, parent contact, and an out-of-town contact in case local phone service is down.
  4. Pack a "Go Bag": Along with your kids, pack a bag with clothing, food, a flashlight, hand sanitizer, medicine, plus books and games to pass the time if the family needs to relocate to a shelter. Include a comforting stuffed animal or small toy for young children.

What to Do During Hurricane Florence

  1. Plan an Evacuation Route: Have a route mapped out in case you're asked to evacuate the area. Also keep in mind alternate routes in case certain roads are closed or flooded.
  2. Listen to Evacuation Instructions: If your area is asked to evacuate, do so, being watchful for flooded roads or washed-out bridges.
  3. Stay Indoors: Unless you are told to evacuate, stay inside during the storm, staying away from windows and skylights. Don't leave until the weather reports say that the storm has passed completely.

What to Do After the Storm

  1. Limit Media Exposure: Even once the storm is over, replaying clips or images of the storm can be upsetting to children.
  2. Check the Area and Utilities: Before you and your kids return home, check the area, as well as the electricity and plumbing.
  3. Let Your Kids Help with Recovery: After the storm, letting kids help with relief efforts in age-appropriate ways can provide them with a sense of control.

As the East Coast prepares for Hurricane Florence, Jennifer Garner and many others are taking to social media to share these helpful tips with their followers. Being as prepared as possible is the first step to helping your little ones stay safe—and feel safe—during a natural disaster.