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How to Protect a Toddler In a Tornado

by Lucie Westminster

You know that you aren't in Kansas anymore if the ominous skies and thunderstorms result in a tornado warning. Unlike Dorothy, you hopefully have prepared for the possibility by having drills with your toddler so he is aware of what to do during a tornado. Take the time when the weather is still and quiet to talk with your youngster about how to stay safe during an actual tornado. However, if you are unlucky enough to experience a real tornado, there are a few steps you need to take to keep your toddler as safe as possible during this scary time.

Listen to any and all warnings put forth by state and local authorities. Pay attention to television or radio alerts that tell you a tornado is coming to your area. If your area has sirens, take them seriously if you hear them go off. No matter how inconvenient the timing may be, this isn't the time to let your toddler finish his precious nap if the local weather authorities send out a warning.

Stay calm. You need to remain calm and collected because your toddler will look to you for how to react during this scary time. With the loud thunder and possible lighting already happening, he will likely already be scared. He can sense your fears, so reassure him with a quiet voice saying, "It's going to be alright, honey. You don't need to worry." Staying calm helps protect your toddler because you can rationally make better safety decisions if you aren't dealing with a screaming and fearful toddler in addition to the tornado.

Grab the weather radio, your toddler's bicycle or t-ball helmet and if you have time, his favorite toy or security blanket. Anything that provides your toddler comfort will make your life less stressful in the already unnerving situation. Of course, if there's no time to grab anything but your toddler, put him first and forget the rest.

Pick up your toddler and take him to a safe area of your home. The safest areas are storm cellars, safe rooms or basements. If you don't have one of those in or around your home, hide underneath the stairs, or if in a single-level home, take him to an interior closest and hide out with the winter coats until the tornado warning is over.

Put your toddler's helmet on his head and then cover yourself and your toddler with his old, outgrown crib mattress for protection from any falling debris in the rare event the tornado actually hits your home. If this is not possible, use a twin-sized mattress or a thick blanket and cuddle together underneath it.

Keep your toddler in your sight, or if it's dark, keep a hand on him at all times during this dangerous situation. This isn't the time to play a game of chase with your toddler, and one of the best ways you can keep your angel safe is to keep him right by Mommy the entire time.

Stay in your safe location until the all-clear is given by your local authorities or your weather radio indicates that the storm has passed. Coming out of your safe place too soon may result in one of you being injured unnecessarily.

Items you will need
  • Battery-operated weather radio
  • Bicycle or t-ball helmet
  • Toy or security blanket
  • Mattress
  • Blanket

Tips

  • Prepare an emergency kit before a tornado ever hits and include an emergency radio, flashlight and a few toddler-friendly snacks.
  • Protect your toddler from other severe weather that often goes hand-in-hand with tornadoes like lighting, hail, or flash floods using similar techniques.

Warning

  • Always try to head inside but if you happen to be driving and see a tornado coming your way, stay in your vehicle unless there is flying debris making it unsafe to drive. If so, remove your toddler from his car seat and head to a ditch or flat ground and lie over your toddler. (Ref 3)

About the Author

Based in Texas, Lucie Westminster has been a writer and researcher since 1975. Her work has been published in journals such as "Psychological Reports" and "Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior." Westminster's interests include developmental psychology, children, pets and crafting. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Miami University.

Photo Credits

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