Hurricanes: Preparing and Responding to the Needs of Children

Save the Children
Save the Children
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Hurricanes: Preparing and Responding to the Needs of Children

Hurricanes are scary and disruptive for kids – they can take children away from their homes, their schools and their friends. As the global leader in child-focused humanitarian response, Save the Children is committed to reducing the impact of natural disasters on children through effective hurricane preparedness, response and recovery.

Since 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we’ve been on the front lines meeting children’s most critical needs in every major U.S. disaster. Thanks to the support of our donors, we’ve created more safe spaces for children in emergencies than any other humanitarian organization. To date, we’ve served more than 3.5 million children affected by U.S. disasters.

As one of the most powerful storms on record to hit Louisiana, Hurricane Ida has putting children at great risk and taking many of them from the lives they once knew. Save the Children’s emergency response team is mobilizing to meet the most urgent needs of children living in areas that will be hardest hit by Hurricane Ida.

10 Hurricane Safety Tips

Save the Children’s emergency response experts have compiled ways to stay safe during a hurricane to help protect your children from distress during and after disasters. We’ve also noted how you may need to adjust your family hurricane emergency plan due to COVID-19.

  1. Talk to your children about hurricanes. Explain to your child what could happen in the event of a hurricane, using simple, age-appropriate words. Outline a family emergency plan for hurricanes, with an evacuation plan and meeting location and emphasize that their safety is your utmost priority. Plan for where you may be able to go while still following the CDC's social distancing recommendations. Keep in mind any family members who may be at high risk for COVID-19 and how to keep gatherings to a minimum.  
  2. Prepare a “to-go bag” for each child in the family ahead of time. The bag should contain essential personal items as well as those that can help protect the spread of COVID-19, including: Contact and medical information A flashlight with extra batteries A favorite stuffed animal or comfort item A blanket Hygiene supplies including a toothbrush, comb and washcloth Hand sanitizer, or bar or liquid soap Two cloth face coverings for each child above the age of two  
  3. Practice evacuation drills. Once you’ve created your hurricane evacuation plan and talked with your children about it, it’s time to practice. Be sure to run through different scenarios – at home, at school and at other places you visit often (like a grandparent’s house, or a second home). When planning your evacuation route, remember that bridges may be washed out and low-lying areas may be flooded.  
  4. Learn your child’s school or child care disaster plans. If your child attends school, daycare or an after-school program, ask for the facility’s hurricane emergency plan. Learn their procedures for evacuation, notifying parents and if there is an alternate pick up location.  
  5. Evacuate if instructed to do so. If you are instructed to evacuate by local authorities – or if you feel unsafe – you should follow CDC recommendations for how to stay safe and healthy in a public setting or shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.  
  6. Stay indoors, if not evacuated. If you aren’t advised to evacuate, or are unable to do so safely, stay indoors, away from windows, skylights and doors. Continue to monitor weather reports and don’t go outside until the storm has passed. Downed trees, live electrical wires and other hazards can crop up unexpectedly.  
  7. Keep routines. Children experience comfort from rituals and routines, like a story before bedtime or a family meal each evening. If at all possible, keep these routines.  
  8. Role model and listen. Remember, children look to you and pick up on your moods and cues. Let your children know that it’s okay to be sad, but do your best to reassure them that they’re safe. Although the dangers of a hurricane are very real, your child’s fears may be out of proportion or unrealistic. Take the time to talk to them and hear their concerns.  
  9. Limit media. Even the mildest of storms can be sensationalized on news and weather channels. Children of all ages can be disturbed by intense images online and on TV, so monitor their media intake.  
  10. Watch your child for changes in behavior, sleeping patterns, or eating habits. Children may be afraid or anxious for a while after the hurricane. If changes in behavior do happen, they will likely lessen within a short time. However, if they continue, you should seek professional help and counseling


What to Know About the 2021 Hurricane Season


The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and runs through November 30. For the second year, the U.S. will spend hurricane season planning to take social distancing and COVID-19 mitigation measures into account. As many coastal states plan for hurricanes, the CDC has recommended that those affected pay attention to their local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and staying safe in shelters.

Hurricane Names
Hurricanes can cause widespread damage and impact communities for years to come.


What is the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning?

  • A hurricane watch indicates there’s a threat of hurricane or tropical storm conditions within 48 hours.
  • A hurricane warning means a hurricane or tropical storm is expected within 36 hours or less.
  • A tropical storm or hurricane statement is issued every 2-3 hours by your local National Weather Service (NWS) office. It will summarize all of the watches and warnings, evacuation info and most immediate threats to the area.


Our History of Hurricane Response & Disaster Relief in the U.S.

Hurricane Florence | Hurricane Michael | Hurricane Harvey | Hurricane Irma | Hurricane Maria

When crisis strikes, children are always among the most vulnerable. That’s why Save the Children has been on the ground, protecting America’s children, in every major disaster since Hurricane Katrina.

Thanks to the support of our donors, our response teams and supplies hit the road before disaster strikes, to help keep children and families safe. We get parents the essential items they need to continue to care for their children, make sure evacuation shelters are safe and supportive to children and families’ unique needs.

We’re also there for the long term, restoring child care centers and preschools – and restarting afterschool and summer programs – so kids can get back to learning and parents can get back to work. Plus, our social and emotional recovery programs, including  Journey of Hope and  HEART (Healing and Education Through the Arts), help children and caregivers understand and cope with the fear and loss that can come in the wake of a disaster.

Hurricane Florence and Michael


Hurricane Harvey and Irma


Hurricane Maria


Hurricane Disaster Relief: How to Help Vulnerable Kids and Communities

Save the Children is the only national response agency that has children at the core of everything we do.

As the national leader for children in emergencies, Save the Children works to ensure children’s unique needs are met and their voices are heard. Through the generous support of our donors, we help protect and keep children safe before, during and after disasters strike, and are there for kids for the long term.

Your generous support is what makes this work possible.


Hurricane Ida has slammed into Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane. 

Hurricanes and severe weather events can destroy or disrupt infrastructure critical to children’s well-being. Save the Children’s emergency response team is mobilizing to meet the most urgent needs of children most impacted by Hurricane Ida. Your donation today supports this life-saving work. 


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