Do it for your children

Recently, I gave a talk to several classes at Easton Elementary School, having to do with a weather topic which, unfortunately, does not get enough attention in our elementary schools. The topic? How to *avoid* deadly weather hazards! These include lightning, flooding and, in winter, whiteouts. It is far more likely that you will one day be in harm’s way from one of these hazards, than you will be in harm’s way from dangerous winds, which is not to say that powerful winds are not a dangerous hazard, it is just that you will tend to encounter the threat from the first three more frequently here in The County. By “harm’s way”, I mean a threat to you, and not to property.

Now, as many of you know, Steven Crowley, the son of NMCC President Tim Crowley, was struck by lightning years ago, and was very seriously injured. What many people don’t realize is that lightning does not only kill, but it can also result in very severe injuries, and working to recover from these is what Steven has had to endure for many years.
WeatherWhys    Well, Steven spoke at my Easton Weather Hazards presentation, and the students were glued to his every word. Because it is one thing to read “lightning is dangerous” and quite another to have a local young man, from right here in Aroostook County say, “Hey! This is no joke, it actually happened to me, and it changed my life.”
So back to the title of this column, “Do it For Your Children”, the key word is “children.”
Because, over the years, I have given many talks about weather hazards. Sometimes at UMPI, other times at the Francis Malcolm Science Center. I have contacted scout leaders in advance. I have contacted school principals in advance. I have done everything possible to try to get the word out to kids who are old enough to receive the message and yet, every single time, adults outnumber kids by a very wide margin.
So I would urge you, the parents, to let your child’s school know that I am available to teach their children and their teachers about these weather hazards. Here are two real-world examples of how useful it can be having your kids know about these weather threats.
Imagine a father saying to his son, “Hey, let’s take the kayaks out on Cross Lake after lunch!” Well, a child as young as 8 or 9 could say, “Gee, Dad, I don’t know, even though it’s sunny overhead, I can hear thunder from across the lake, and I learned in my Weather Hazards unit, that if you can hear thunder, you are at risk for lightning strikes right then, so we’d better head inside.”
Or let’s say a mom is driving her daughter home in a rainstorm, and they come across a foot and a half of water, flowing at a good clip across the road and pouring into a raging stream. The daughter says “Mom, that water will move our car, even though it’s an SUV, right into that stream. I learned that in my Weather Hazards unit at school.”
The key point is, I’m trying to get the message out to kids, so that they can know how to avoid weather hazards and help their family avoid them as well. And then, one day, these same kids will have families of their own, and they’ll know what to do, having learned it in their Weather Hazards unit in school!
So please contact your school and tell them this potentially life-saving information is out there, totally free of charge, from me, Ted Shapiro. By the way, I am part of the National Weather Service’s Storm Ready Program, serving as a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, charged with doing the very things I have described in this column, teaching kids about weather hazards and how to avoid them!
President Crowley and I are passionate about getting the message out. I hope you, the reader, can help us do that.
  Ted Shapiro holds the Broadcast Seal of Approval from both the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. An Alexandria, Va. native, he has been chief meteorologist at WAGM-TV since 2006. Email him at