Meet the Helpers: This program prepares your kids for hurricane season

Children can find emergency checklists, watch videos on local PBS station

ORLANDO, Fla. – As we move into hurricane season, it’s hard to forget images of flooding and damage from Hurricanes Ian and Nicole last year.

With so many families still rebuilding, the mere thought of another tropical storm or hurricane can fill kids with anxiety, but there are ways to help them deal with feelings of uncertainty.

News 6 anchor Julie Broughton spoke with Dr. Elie Hessel, a pediatric psychologist from Nemours Children’s Health, on how to support kids during hurricane season.

“Some of the concerns that might have just been more theoretical for kids last time around are going to feel a lot more real and a lot more scary,” Hessel said. “Some of them might remember some of the things they heard. During the storm, the loud wind, sounds of branches, snapping. I remember being without power for a little while.”

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She said while every family and child can be a little different and there is no one right answer, getting kids involved in hurricane preparations can help.

“(In Florida), we have times of the year where we can buy hurricane care, tax-free, for example. And so that’s a great opportunity to talk with our kids about, you know, ‘Hey, right now, everything’s safe, there’s nothing to worry about. But sometimes storms happen. And so we’re going to buy these batteries, and we’re going to get this kind of radio or whatever it is that your family gets. So that when something happens, or if something happens, we’re safe, and we’re ready,’” Hessel said.

Hessel also recommends involving your kids in age-appropriate preparations. A good guide on how to do this is WUCF’s “Meet the Helpers.”

It’s an initiative the local PBS station started after the Pulse tragedy. Content is created in partnership with educators at WUCF-TV. You’ll find checklists on how to make an emergency plan. And children can watch videos of helpers, like line workers and 911 operators.

“So we actually see the 911 operator. Children have actually shown in our research a 25% increase in knowledge of what a 911 operator does. So we are actually helping kids understand how these community helpers can help you,” said Jennifer Cook, executive director of WUCF TV & FM. “Children may have been scared of a firefighter beforehand, but after watching these videos have a much more positive reaction, So the research is really trending in that direction where even watching a 3-5 minute video about what a firefighter does, how they help you, how you can help them, is really having such a positive impact on children.”

For more information on how to use Meet the Helpers with your family, click here.

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About the Author:

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.