The Squeaky Wheel

How to protect your psychological health, improve your relationships, and enhance your self-esteem.

Use Hurricane Preparation to Enhance Family Bonds

Hurricanes can bring family members together

Preparing for hurricanes and going through them can present a challenge for parents but also an opportunity to bring family members together. Here’s how.

1. Assign Everyone a Role: Delegating responsibilities to all family members emphasizes teamwork and mutual responsibility. Young children can be given duties such as preparing board and card games for the family to play in the event of power outages. Teenagers can be assigned physical or communication tasks such as monitoring emergency channels for updates and instructions (which puts their multiple social media platforms to good use) and reporting back on any developments.

2. Hold an Emergency Drill: Every member of the family should know what to do in the case of a power outage or if it becomes necessary to evacuate. Create a plan which details where to keep prepared overnight bags, how to egress the home in case of an evacuation, and where the nearest shelters are. Hold one or two drills in an orderly but fun way (so as not to alarm younger children). Teenagers will cooperate more willingly if they are given the responsibility of sounding the ‘alarm’ for these drills (which makes sense since they are likely to hear about any evacuations first via social media). Emphasize mutual responsibility and the need to function as a unit.

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3. Take Advantage of Power Outages to Communicate: Without television or internet and with the need to preserve cellphone batteries, families will be able to spend time together with little interruption. Make sure all family members participate in meal preparation and that everyone eats together. Ask teenagers to provide updates to everyone during mealtimes. Use evenings for playing board games (boredom alone will motivate teenagers to participate). Both family meals and games are a great opportunity to communicate with tweens and teens. They are far more likely to open up while playing a board game in candlelight. Make sure to ask causal questions and avoid the temptation to cross examine.

4. Emphasize Togetherness and Unity: Find opportunities to insert “We’ll get through it together,” “We can rely on one another,” “We’re there for each other,” “Let’s help each other pass the time,” “This family can do it!” and other morale building and team bonding communications. Don’t overdo it as teenagers have a limited tolerance for family cheerleading, but even a few such statements can have a positive impact.

5. Take Pictures: Documenting how your family comes together to manage the hurricane and its aftermath is a great way to extend and deepen enhanced feelings of family unity beyond the actual emergency. Take pictures of the family eating, working, or playing together (candlelight pictures are especially effective). Make sure to charge batteries in digital cameras and make sure to not waste cellphone batteries unnecessarily if there is a power outage. After the hurricane make a family album or post pictures to social media to emphasize how well the family managed as a unit.

Hurricanes are dangerous events so make sure to stay safe and get closer with your loved ones as you do.

Copyright 2012 GuyWinch

Follow me on Twitter @GuyWinch

Guy Winch, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and author of The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships and Enhance Self-Esteem. more...

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