natural disaster prep

We know that preparing your family for natural disasters is daunting. On top of everything else to do and worry about as a parent, sometimes, the last thing you want to do is think about something like an earthquake or hurricane. But, preparedness is a state of mind, not a one-time task.

Children are one of the most vulnerable populations amidst a disaster and also critical to a community's recovery. After teaching disaster planning and after the birth of my 4-year old girl daughter these facts drove me to ask the same questions many parents I know had as well.


How and when do you start to prepare a child for a natural disaster? How do you talk about it in an age appropriate manner where the conversation leaves your child feeling secure and empowered instead of more scared?

What I learned was comforting. I found that with the more knowledge children have and practice they gain, the more prepared and resilient they can become. Like any new skill, it doesn't happen overnight—family preparedness needs to be practiced and developed over time.

How to talk to your kids about natural disasters

According to LadyBugOut advisor and child psychologist, Dr. Susan Ko, it's important to stay calm, collected and positive. Whatever you say, your children will remember the feeling, so reframe words. For example, instead of "fear" use the word, "calm." It's also important to plan for a series of small conversations so the topic is easier to understand.

Share your knowledge enthusiastically and often. Your child may not save your family during an earthquake, but through conversations and the practice drills, you can build built confidence and feelings of preparedness.

Here are ways to prepare for common natural disasters:

How to prepare your family for earthquakes

  • Learn and commit to memory how to Drop, Cover and Hold on.
  • If an earthquake occurs at night, discuss the importance of staying in bed with your children. Advise them to roll on to their stomachs and cover their head and neck and wait for you to come get them.
  • If inside and you don't have a large object to seek cover under, drop where you are, avoiding windows, lighting fixtures or furniture that could fall.
  • If outside, find an open space and stay there—move away from buildings, streetlights or trees
  • Remember the top injury during an earthquake is cut feet; tie shoes to your bed or keep sneakers underneath to protect your feet.

How to prepare your family for wildfires

  • If you see a wildfire, call 911. You may be the first person to have spotted it. Ensure your kids know this number as well.
  • If emergency officials tell you to evacuate, do it!
  • Be aware that smoke and ash can travel for miles sostay indoors, avoid strenuous play and exercise, keep doors and windows shut and set air conditioners to recirculate air. N95 masks can keep harmful particles out of the air you breathe, but they should only be worn if they have a proper fit.
  • Turn on lights inside and outside your home, so your home can be identified in heavy smoke.

How to prepare your family for tornadoes

  • If you are in a building, go to a basement, cellar, or lowest building level. e sure to bring items of comfort for your children such as lovies or stuffed animals. If there is no basement, go to an inside room like a closet or hallway. Stay away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls and do not open windows.
  • If you are outside with no shelter nearby, get into a vehicle and buckle your seatbelt. Put your head down below the windows and cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion. If there isn't a car or shelter nearby, try to find a ditch or area lower than the ground and lie down. You are safer in a low, flat location than under a bridge or highway overpass.

How to prepare your family for hurricanes

  • Stay away from windows and glass doors—they could break and hurt you.
  • Don't go outside when the rain or winds stop. This is the eye of the storm, or a short "rest," and it will start again.
  • If need be, stay inside a closet or a room without windows. You can also lie on the floor under a table or sturdy object.

As a general rule of thumb, here is what to keep in mind when preparing your family for any natural disaster:

  • Educate yourself about the risks, resources, needs to keep your family safe in the event of a natural disaster.
  • Focus a plan for reunification. Discuss where to meet to keep everyone safe.
  • Have emergency supplies including food, water, medical, and safety items readily available.
  • Communicate this plan to your community—both locally in your neighborhood and to a dedicated out of town contact.

Over time, preparedness will be a part of your family culture and each supply, task, drill, and conversation can bring your family safer, together.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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