Staying Safe in a Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms are nature’s own firework shows. They can be spectacular, with dazzling flashes of lightning, rolling booms of thunder and the heavy beat of the rain on the roof. Many kids (and adults) are frightened of thunderstorms. Lightning can be dangerous, so let’s find out how to stay safe.

Although it is something that happens fairly rarely, lightning can strike people. The safest thing to do when a thunderstorm approaches is to immediately go inside a sturdy building with four walls, for example a classroom or your house. When inside, avoid touching any electrical items that are plugged into the wall, like a landline phone or a desktop computer, because lightning can pass down electrical wires. Oftentimes, your parents may unplug electrical items in the house during a thunderstorm to protect them from surges caused by lightning strikes. It’s best to avoid the sink and the shower until the storm has passed. Open-sided buildings such as baseball dugouts are not a safe place to be in a thunderstorm.

Another safe place to shelter during a thunderstorm is inside a metal vehicle with a hard roof, like a car or a bus. Once you are inside the vehicle, close the windows and sit with your hands in your lap. If the vehicle is struck by lightning, the lightning passes through the metal shell and out into the ground, and anyone inside is safe. When inside the vehicle, don’t touch metal parts such as the key ignition or the radio because metal conducts electricity.

Stay in your safe building or vehicle for 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

As water conducts electricity, it is important to immediately get out of a swimming pool or the ocean if a thunderstorm is coming. You should move well away from the water. Lightning tends to strike at the highest point, so never remain standing on an open playing field, and never shelter under a tree.

It is perfectly normal for some kids to feel nervous during a thunderstorm; after all the thunder can be very loud and the lightning flashes very bright. If you feel scared, you can sit and talk with an adult, play with your pets or wear ear plugs until the storm has passed. You may find that your pets get nervous in storms too, and you may have to soothe them to keep them calm. Remember it may take a while, but the storm will pass.

You can tell roughly how far a storm is away by counting the seconds between a flash of lightning and the next boom of thunder. Take that number and divide it by 3. That will give you the approximate distance the storm is away from you in kilometres. You can use this method to figure out if a thunderstorm is moving closer or moving away from your location.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States has a good slogan to remember: “When thunder roars, go indoors!”

Parents don't get it... but kids do!

What is the dab, what is the bolt, what is the difference and why do we do them?

The DAB: It started out as an urban dance move, and has evolved into a pose symbolizing humble accepting of praise... it's like taking a bow, but not as stiff, old fashioned, and certainly way cooler looking.

Technique: partially bent knees, one slightly forward, place your face in the corner of your elbow (above the forward knee), point both your hands back.

Where it started: The hip hop scene of the city of Atlanta around 2013. In 2015, the Whip Nae Nae song sung by a 13-year-old Silento of Atlanta, incorporated the dance pose into the lyrics and the introduction to younger generations was compete.

Its impact:  Possibly the most popular dance move of the past 2 years, pop culture has absorbed and mass-distributed this pose. Even famous soccer players are dabbing after they score a goal!

The BOLT: Made recognizable by the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt, this pose took off in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics when he used it as his signature gold medal move. This move is also characterized as a proud moment pose.

Technique: wide stance both knees bent, right arm across the chest, left arm parallel to right arm but slightly higher, pointing up and looking in that direction.

Where it started: The move also has its origins in music, namely the Jamaican dancehall scene of 2008. When Usain made it famous, Jamaica incorporated it into travel commercials for the country.

Its impact: You know it's cool when President Obama, Richard Branson and Prince Harry have been caught striking a bolt! Bolt later used this move to promote tourism to his homeland Jamaica in 'Come to Jamaica' promo video.

So what is the difference?

Well, the bolt takes a little longer to perform and is pegged to great human achievement and pride. The DAB is a casual dance move that is way more of a daily response. Both cool.

Which one is better? You decide!

Sand Turtle

Fun times on the beach

Instead of making the usual sandcastle, you can make a sand turtle. For those of you who are not sure how you want your turtle to look, you can look up a picture in a book or maybe even via the internet. This will help to give you great ideas to design your turtle. There is no right or wrong way when you make your sand turtle, you can design it and make it look however you like.

Materials needed



Water and spray bottle



You will need to fetch water in a bucket. Experiment and see just how wet your sand needs to be for it all to hold together. It may not be as easy as you may think, there are skills involved in putting together your cool sand design.

Think of adding flowers, shells, rocks – you can add whatever you like to make your turtle design pop and make people stop and stare while you get creative. And if no one looks, that’s fine too; as long as you’re having fun!


Hiking is a great sport. It can be done alone or with a group and it’s a lovely way to see your island from a different perspective. It’s inspiring to be out in nature, and there are all sorts of ways you can challenge yourself. Luckily for us living on St. Maarten/St Martin, we have no shortage of great treks for the beginner to expert hiker. But one must always remember – safety first!

Getting started, the most important ingredient in any hike is WATER. Make sure to pack at least a litre of water per person. Camel packs (those backpacks with a hose that comes over the shoulder) are the most convenient way to carry water, but a water bottle will do just fine too. Snacks are also important because food gives us energy. Sandwiches, granola bars, apples and oranges are light and handy foods for a hike; and bringing a few pieces of candy is a great reward for making it the next check point.

Dressing appropriately is also something to consider. You would not wear a bathing suit to the movies or Jiu Jitsu Gi to school, so there is also appropriate wear for hiking. Shorts, leggings, T-shirts, long socks and baseball caps are some clothing items that are great for hiking – jeans, dresses and jackets are not. There are professional hiking boots that are sold on St. Maarten, but if you are a casual hiker, regular sneakers with deep treads (the lines on the bottom of your shoes) will do the job.

If you are hiking up a really steep hill, like the hike up to Century Hill, soccer shoes are surprisingly helpful! Flip flops are absolutely not good hiking shoes. When you are hiking, it tends to be breezy and it’s easy not to notice how hot it is. That is why sun protection is also a must. You can protect yourself from the sun using a hat or cap, sunglasses, short- or long-sleeve shirts, and sunblock.

You must also always make sure someone knows where you are going hiking. Getting lost is bad, but it is worse if no one knows where to look for you. Make sure there is always someone who knows the route that was planned for the day, and be responsible when making the plan for the trip. Do not underestimate the time it will take to complete the hike. You don’t want to end up trying to find your way back in the dark.

Hiking in the dark is fun if you are prepared with lights, but it’s scary and easy to get lost if you do not have proper equipment. Once you are on the trail, it’s all about respecting nature. If you see a cow up ahead, it’s probably better to steer around it. Do not touch plants you do not know or recognize, because poisonous plants can hurt. Watch your step; don’t go too fast and conserve your energy for the distance.

Most importantly, enjoy the experience.

Elephant-ear Pastries

These pastries are easy to make with store-bought puff pastry. You can choose a sweet or a savoury filling. Have an adult help you in the kitchen.


1 package of frozen puff pastry

1 cup Demerara sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon stirred in (for sweet filling)

Parmesan cheese, finely grated (for savoury filling)


Leave the pastry out to defrost, about 30 mins.

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Carefully unroll the pastry leaving the backing paper in place.

Sprinkle the filling of your choice on top, making sure to reach the edges.

Gently press the filling into the pastry with a rolling pin.

With the long edge of the rectangle of pastry in front of you, using your fingertips and your palms, carefully roll the pastry up half-way until you reach the centre.

Turn the pastry around and roll up the opposite edge until you reach the middle.

Wrap the pastry log tightly in the original paper and pop into the freezer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400° F.

Remove the pastry log from the freezer.

Using a knife dipped in flour; cut the pastry log into slices about 1cm thick.

Place the slices on top of the parchment paper on the cookie sheet, leaving some space around each pastry as they will spread as they bake.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until crisp and golden.

Have an adult remove the pastries from the baking tray with a palette knife and leave to cool on a baking rack.

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