Maybe you think storms are scary, but they can be pretty cool, too. Even if they seem scary, the more you know about them, the better prepared you and your family will be in case your area sees a tornado, hurricane, or blizzard. Try thinking of severe weather the way you think about dinosaurs: You may not want to actually meet one, but learning about them is awesome, and scientists have dedicated their lives to helping us understand more about them.

Probably the scariest thing about storms is the confusion they bring. When you don’t know what’s going on and there are lots of loud sounds, it’s easy to get a little panicked. That’s why it’s so important to make a plan with your family before a storm actually hits. Make sure everyone knows what to do in any situation, like if a storm hits at school and you can’t go home on time or if a parent isn’t home when you hear tornado sirens.

Family emergency plans should provide answers for three things: shelter, separation, and preparation. First, you need to know where to take shelter in severe weather. Some parts of your home are safer than others. Walk through your home with your family and decide where the safest place to go during a tornado would be. If it helps you remember, make a sign with your parents to mark that space so everyone knows it’s the right room if they get scared and confused. Next, talk about what to do if you aren’t together when storms come. Who should you call if you can’t contact your parents? Where will you meet up if you get separated? Which adults (like neighbors, aunts, uncles, or grandparents) can you go to for help if your parents are not with you during an emergency? If something happens to your home and it isn’t safe to stay inside, where should you wait to meet up with the rest of your family? Finally, make sure your home is ready with everything you need in case of severe weather.

Your parents will have to do a lot of the preparations for a storm, but you can help. Remind them to gather non-perishable foods that will be safe to eat if the power goes out and you can’t use the refrigerator. Maybe you can help organize part of a closet or pantry to hold bottles of water in case a hurricane makes it hard to get water out of the tap for a few days. The lights may not turn on when you flip the light switch after a storm, so keep lots of batteries for your flashlight. Your parents may even decide to keep matches and candles or lanterns for emergencies, but make sure you never touch them without permission and an adult’s help.

Don’t forget your pets while you’re planning! When you gather up warm blankets and food to keep you safe and happy in an emergency, grab a few extra cans of pet food, a bag of treats, and enough water for your furry, feathered, or scaly friends. Ask your parents about emergency crates, harnesses, or tanks to keep with your emergency kit, too.

The more you learn about storms, the better prepared you’ll be in case you’re ever in one. There are lots of games, experiments, and other fun things you can check out to help you understand what things like tornadoes, hail, and hurricanes really are.

Tornadoes

Hurricanes

Winter Storms/Blizzards

Lightning and Thunderstorms

Hailstorms