Severe weather can threaten individuals all over the world at any time and can cause millions of dollars worth of damage, and that is why it is a great idea to prepare children for all types of severe weather. Here in the United States, we get all types of severe weather, like hurricanes, flooding, thunderstorms, tornadoes, blizzards. Recent studies done by a research scientist have found that the yearly economic cost of weather disasters was found to be $485 billion. This is why it is essential for everyone, especially children to know how to prepare and what to do in a severe weather situation. During my experience with the kids at the Fayetteville Boys and Girls Club and the Fayetteville Public Library, we went over the major severe weather threats that they may face in the future, so they know what preparations to take if faced with a severe weather situation.
The Flooding module
Here in the south central part of the United States we could observe all sorts of severe weather. In the spring, flash flooding might occur caused by heavy rain. Flood waters heavily constrains our mobility, and big flooding events can possibly pick up vehicles and carry them away. In the United States, an average of 89 people lose their lives in floods every year. The kids really enjoyed this module and were excited to see what happened to Owlie during the flash flooding exercise. We also went over the safety tips and the catchy rhymes that they are given during the game. It is extremely important to raise the awareness of flooding among young children. “Turn around don’t drown” is one of the rhymes I tell the children to help them remember to stay out of flooded areas and out of harm’s way.
Lighting and Thunder!
Thunderstorms are also a common type of severe weather in the South Central U.S. They not only bring heavy rainfall but also could produce thousands of lightning strikes. The kids during my visit at the Boys and Girls Club of Fayetteville asked me why lightning is so dangerous and I let the kids know that lightning is very dangerous because it can carry massive amounts of electricity and are very hot in temperature. Lightning is not part of the criteria for a thunder storm to become severe so it is always a good idea to be aware of the weather if you plan to be outside. If the forecast calls for thunderstorms it’s important to stay informed of the weather and go inside a safe building if a thunderstorm is nearing. We went over lightning safety with the kids and I reminded them of the saying “when thunder roars go indoors,” which can really come in handy remember this when the kids are outdoors. We did an exercise of how you can find how far away lightning is from you. An easy way is to start counting when you see lightning and stop counting when your hear thunder, then divide the number of seconds you got by five, and that will give you the distance in miles. Light is faster than sound and that is why you see the lightning first and then the sound of thunder. Also when there are thunderstorms in your area you should stay away from anything that can conduct electricity, for example your television, toaster, and shower. The Boys and Girls Club has a few pools and I let the kids know that water conducts electricity very well so it is a bad idea to go swimming or even to take a shower during a thunderstorm, and it is good to remember the saying “don’t be a fool get out of the pool.”
Tornadoes are the most destructive form of severe weather on the planet. We shared severe weather stories and a few of the children had seen the damage a tornado can do from past encounters. After the module we went over tornado safety and had a review of what a tornado is and what it is capable of doing. We talked about how during a tornado you can expect winds up to 300 mph; the wind can level buildings and cause debris. Debris is the materials like wood, cars, glass that the tornado picks up and then throws it at a very high speed causing injuries if you are not in a safe place. It is very important to listen to the radio or TV for local weather reports when there is a high threat for tornadoes and a tornado watch is issued. If a tornado warning is issued that means a tornado has been reported or will be on the ground very soon. That means you have to take cover immediately and know what to do when you are faced with a situation like an approaching tornado. You should have a designated location to go to take cover during a tornado, CHUB is a good acronym to remember, C stands for closet, H stands for hallway, U stands for under stairs, and B stands for bathroom. If an underground storm shelter is not available CHUB becomes handy in situations like this. The kids found CHUB to sound funny and interesting but understood the concept and I know they will remember it and can put it in use if it is necessary. Tornadoes can happen any time of the year, and even though they happen more often in what is known as tornado alley it is always important to stay aware of local weather reports and to know what to do when a tornado strikes anywhere in the world that you may be in.
During a winter storm be sure to stay warm
Winter storms can be fun for children as they like to play in the snow and the kids at the Boys and Girls Club and the Fayetteville Public Library told me all their stories about winter storms they’ve been through and how they had during snow days. I told them about the 2000 ice storm that hit the central section of the United States; it was a heavy ice storm with a major accumulation of ice on all surfaces. Most of them were too young to remember that event but they told me about other winter storms that have passed through Arkansas. Winter weather can be very fun and beautiful but they could also cause big problems and it is also good to know how to stay safe during a winter storm. I talked to the children about winter storm safety and how winter storm can come in many different varieties of precipitation. There can be sleet, snow, and freezing rain in a winter storm. Freezing rain can be very dangerous, ice can accumulate and many tree branches and power lines can fall to the ground and cause damage, that’s why it’s good to stay inside and out of danger during and after freezing rain. Power outages can also happen which leads to no heating during cold temperatures. In this case you have to stay warm anyway you can and stay informed. Snow is very fun to play in but sometimes during a really heavy snow like a blizzard it is better to stay inside. During a blizzard high winds and very heavy amounts of snow falling can cause very dangerous conditions. Also if you are driving, white out conditions can occur because the snow is so heavy that you cannot see the road and can lead to accidents. At the end of the module me and the kids talked about winter weather and how to stay warm during power outages, also that it is a good idea to have some canned food available just in case it is too difficult to get out of the house. At the end I let them know to always remember to be smarter than the weather and stay ahead of it by being prepared if you do have to go outside.
The Young Meteorologist Program can benefit children on a daily basis as I experienced during my time with the children, and it can propagate to their family and friends. By working with the children we can inform children about severe weather and how they can possibly keep themselves and even others safe by knowing what to do during severe weather.
Submitted by Christian Garcia – http://www.youngmeteorologist.org