With severe weather season approaching, staff at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital want to keep patients and families safe and weather aware. Hospital staff regularly conducts drills associated to severe weather warnings to ensure everyone is keeping patient safety a top priority.
Teachers in the special education department talk to the patients about severe weather, explaining the various weather patterns and seasons. “We may not be able to teach them the exact science of how tornadoes form and about the different ingredients needed in the atmosphere, but we are able to adapt our curriculum to teach the children about tornadoes in their own way,” said Matt Harder, special education teacher. “I think it’s important because every kid needs to have the same opportunities to learn no matter what environment they are in.”
The Hospital recently opened its new four-story, 100,000 square foot patient bed tower featuring 40 additional beds, expanded outpatient rehabilitation and a pediatric clinic. There are also six new conference rooms, with one serving as the tornado safe room. The room can be divided into three separate spaces, all with audio-video capabilities, and can be modified for multiple meeting settings. When fully opened the 4,000 square foot conference room serves as the Hospital’s tornado safe room, providing a safe haven for patients, families and staff in the event of a tornado warning or watch.
“The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital is excited to provide a safe room for patients, families, and staff in the event of severe weather. This EF-5 rated, 4,000 square foot safe room is located in the Hobby Lobby Conference Room within the walls of the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation Education Center. The safe room is large enough to accommodate all patients, families, and staff who are on campus during a weather emergency. As patient safety is one of our top priorities, we are incredibly grateful for the community support received for this campus expansion to enable us to provide the highest levels of care for our patients,” said Mike Milligan, chief financial officer, The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital.
Here are some tips for talking to your child about severe weather and keeping your family safe.
Manage your own emotions:
Children feed off the emotions of their trusted caregivers; even infants will become more fussy and anxious if their parent is anxious and worried. Stay as calm as you can and talk matter of fact to your children about the weather or what you are doing in preparing for the bad weather.
Be honest about upcoming severe weather but limit their exposure to repeat weather forecasts as this might increase anxiety or worry.
Consider your child’s personality and temperament when talking to them about the storms. If your child is a worrier, minimize information that might make them more worried. If your child is a learner and would like more factual information about storms, how tornados form and what causes bad weather, explore children’s educational websites together with your child.
Let your child ask questions: answer them honestly according to the question but avoid giving too much information that might be overwhelming or cause increased anxiety. Clarify misconceptions your child might have about storms and safety.
Have a plan and share it with your children:
Talk to your child about your severe weather plans and where you would go for shelter if a tornado is coming towards your home. Have your child help with the severe weather plan: they can help pack a small bag they can have ready to take with them to the shelter. Your child’s bag might include a blanket, a jacket, bottled water, a few snacks, favorite toys, and their bike helmet if they have one. For more information about building an emergency preparation kit with your child visit http://www.ready.gov/kids/build-a-kit. Let your child know if they are at a friend’s house or school to listen to the adult or teacher for directions on what to do to stay safe.
Be warm and supportive:
Don’t tell your child they are silly or being dramatic regarding the weather or being scared of the weather. Let younger children know how unlikely it is a tornado will hit their house. Give older children more information regarding how the weather conditions are different from where the expected tornado is, how far away the tornado might be or which direction it is heading. Let them know how safe they are. Be reassuring and supportive when discussing severe weather with your child. You can say things like, “I know you are scared, worried, concerned, but we have a plan to stay safe and we are going to discuss our shelter plan in the unlikely chance the weather gets really bad.”
For more tips on staying safe in severe weather please click here.