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Chasing with your young children

Since we started a topic on "convincing your significant other", I thought the off-season might be a good time to bring up the subject of chasing with your young children.

My daughter will be about 6 years old by next chase season, and I figured that when she reaches 7 (Spring 2008) she would become a semi-regular chase partner of mine for a portion of my chase vacation. This includes riding along for a multi-day event, away from home, overnighting in motels. (She has already done a few "spot" chases with me, seeing her first tornado in 2004.) I'd like to hear about some of the experiences from other chasers who have chased with their young children (ages 6-17) for extended chase vacations for advice and anectodes so I can have a fair understanding of what I might expect or how I might make the vacation more enjoyable.
 
Great topic! My, at the time, 3 year old (advanced vocabulary for her age) went chasing with me on all my local chases last year. She literally threw a fit one time when she thought I had left without her and my wife had to calm her down.

Un prompted by my wife or I, she asked for a camera to take pictures "of the pretty storms" for her third birthday. I'm definitely taking her whenever she wants! My wife has already said I can take her on over night trips if I thought something was really great.

Now the advice:

What I've done for the local trips is to include her in as much as I can. I have the laptop situated so she can see it from her car seat in the back. She asks me questions about what is going on, etc. We stop and get out of the car to take pictures together..even if it's not a storm (sunsets, etc)

On the long drives we play funny kid songs on the CD player like veggie tales or something. I haven't tried the DVD movie yet, but I'd probably have that as a backup for a really long drive.

We also have a sorta set routine that after the storm we stop at McDonalds for an ice cream cone.

Honestly I'm not sure it's really about the storm all that much, but that she wants to spend time with me more than anything. Do those 'stupid' things that kids remember when they get older and she/he will thank you for it later.

-Tyler
 
My experience is with a friend and his wife who wanted to follow for a chase in nebraska and ended up bringing their 12 yr old daughter.

The daughter was a pain and miserable the whole time.. I was concerned again for her safety getting in and out of the vehicle on roads. Im always trying to stay extra keen for my own safety while on the roadways.

Im sure its going to matter how the child in particular behaves, of course if they are your own or someoene elses... lol

I would not do it again and it angered my friend but i dont care.. I told him I was concerned of any liability I may have with the 12 yr old girl tagging along.. So he and his wife and the girl went by themselves.. Not only that her being pissy the whole way kind fo rubbed off on me in a negative way and made my trip less enjoyable.

So they can chase scud 50 or 100 miles from the action if they so choose but thats on them.

im not sure my post was worth alot but it came to mind when the topic came about.
 
Im sure its going to matter how the child in particular behaves, of course if they are your own or someoene elses... lol

True. My rule with my wife was that my daughter had to be able to fully understand instructions before I would take her. Here's a good test to see if it's safe. Next time you see your kid getting ready to walk across the street or parking lot yell "Stop!". If they freeze and turn to look at you..they can go. If they continue walking and when they get across they turn and yell "what?". They can't go. Of course I drill that into my kids from day one, but I know some parents like to 'argue' with their kids. You obey me first..and then we talk about it later.
 
I have my 14 year old son with me most of the time. He is great and it helps that he's actually a storm nut just like the old man. If he wasn't interested, I'd be more worried about having him with me, but interest=education so he's pretty smart while chasing. My 2 cents. Jeff
 
This is a very good topic and I want to bring up something that may need to be considered: Legal issues.

If an officer of the law was to see someone taking their young children out chasing, could they actually get children services involved?

Could a case be argued for:

1. Child Endangerment?
2. Intentionally putting a child in "harms way" (even though veteren chasers are aware of what they are doing, does the law see it this way?)

And what would happen if one is trapped in a damaging hail core with young children in the vehicle while intentionally chasing? I could just see the scenarios that the legal community could throw down - and charge the parents with.

As an example, read this recent quote of a news article as an example of sorts:

The charges against Scott City's only dentist stem from an incident on May 19 when Riddle allegedly encouraged two children under 17 years of age to jump off the roof of his residence and into a swimming pool. Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd said it's his understanding that the two minors were attending a party at the Riddle residence. The juveniles are identified only by their initials in the felony indictment.



If one is to face child endangerment charges for encouraging two children to jump off a roof and fall into a swimming pool, would not encouraging children to go into a car into a severe thunderstorm be something that is chargable?


It's a tricky issue but in this day in age, it has to be considered if one is going to consider taking young children with them while chasing severe weather.
 
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I don't even think it needs to be considered actually. There's more danger of my child getting hurt at school playing on a swing set than watching storm from a safe distance with me. It would be like arguing that taking your child white water rafting could get you thrown in jail.

Let's remember that anyone can be sued for anything by anyone in the united states. If you gauge your life by the legal ramifications of your actions you'll just sit in your house and pick your nose. But of course you can get sued for that too.

Something to consider from a safety stand point but not from a legal standpoint.
 
I don't even think it needs to be considered actually. There's more danger of my child getting hurt at school playing on a swing set than watching storm from a safe distance with me. .

I understand what you are saying, however there are situations where, as we all know, severe weather can be erratic or events can happen where a "safe distance" is suddenly right there in the thick of it. With police suing due to video evidence (let's say the event was taped, there was damaging hail breaking windows, children are crying), I would be paranoid as crazy to even think of taking my (future) young children with me on a chase. A safe distance, absolutely, I'd see no problem at all with watching a storm from a nice safe distance with my children in a local area. However, on a chase in a dangerous weather situation, to me, that's an entirely different situation. Just my thoughts.
 
Sorry to mention this but.... Steve Irwin came to mind, the Croc Hunter..

Rememebr that Fiasco? Feeding the Crocodiles?

Do you or I equivilate the two?? No not really.. but would someone else?? Maybe..


This is a very good topic and I want to bring up something that may need to be considered: Legal issues.

If an officer of the law was to see someone taking their young children out chasing, could they actually get children services involved?

Could a case be argued for:

1. Child Endangerment?
2. Intentionally putting a child in "harms way" (even though veteren chasers are aware of what they are doing, does the law see it this way?)

And what would happen if one is trapped in a damaging hail core with young children in the vehicle while intentionally chasing? I could just see the scenarios that the legal community could throw down - and charge the parents with.

As an example, read this recent quote of a news article as an example of sorts:





If one is to face child endangerment charges for encouraging two children to jump off a roof and fall into a swimming pool, would not encouraging children to go into a car into a severe thunderstorm be something that is chargable?


It's a tricky issue but in this day in age, it has to be considered if one is going to consider taking young children with them while chasing severe weather.
 
This goes back to the perceived dangers vs. real dangers in chasing as seen by the public eye. We know that aside from highway-related dangers, storm dangers are so negligible in comparison that I myself keep wondering why they are still brought up as 'serious dangers' anymore. The whitewater rafting analogy is an excellent one. The dangers of activities like whitewater rafting, and the probabilities for death and injury thereof, far exceed that of storm chasing. Death and injury happen regularly with rafting, without uproar or protest. Kids routinely go whitewater rafting with no objection. Statistically speaking, riding a bicycle is the most likely cause of injury for a child today. If a parent could get into trouble for taking a child chasing, then every parent that lets their child ride a bike should be in jail.

Furthermore, for most of us, storm chasing is not about intentionally getting into danger. Few of us chase for that reason or purpose. I can see no scenario where a responsible chaser could be implicated for child endangerment, even in the event of an accidental hail encounter. The problem I could see is that the public does not see chasing in that way, as there is still the 'Twister' stereotype to deal with. But I believe in court, it could easily be proven that storms are not as dangerous to chasers as they are always hyped up to be.

Again, I'm not downplaying lightning, hail, etc. - I'm just reiterating the point that they are not the tremendous risk to chasers that they are always portrayed to be (especially compared to highway dangers and whitewater rafting).

Having said all that, I would probably be much more cautious with a child on board, going out of my way to avoid large hail and damaging winds.
 
I have brought my 9 yo daughter on non-severe storms. She gets a kick out if it and really peaks her interest. She understands that she can't go with dad on the "rough" stuff.
 
If my home was in the middle of a high risk, I'd feel better if my wife/kids (hypothetical, I'm still single) were in the car with me chasing than them sitting at home.

I believe being with an experienced chaser with onboard data during a severe weather outbreak may be safer than just about any other above-ground alternative.
 
I bring my son, Michael, on all my storm chases or should I say he brings me. At the young age of 14(today's is his B-day) Michael has a real passion for storm chasing and an ability to locate tornadic activity. This year was our first serious chasing season and we witnessed 6 tornados due to his ability to read maps and determine which supercells would produce tornados. I could not ask for a better chase partner.

I have two other younger kids(daughters 11 and 8) that are deathly afraid of any kind of severe weather. It will be a long time before I can convince them to chase with me.
 
I can tell you for certain, there are PLENTY of small town prosecutors in those many, many towns we go through across the plains that would LOVE to make a name for themselves if, God forbid, something crazy was to happen on a chase and a child was hurt in such a way to require ANY form of treatment. They WOULD make an issue out of it!

Especially in Texas... the state is already yanking children out of homes left and right and the drop of a hat for less dangerous behavior than intercepting severe weather.

As someone said, it's the perception. While most of us know the greatest risk really is other drivers on the road when chasing. The general public has a MUCH different view of the dangers of it, and an aspiring prosecutor, or heck, even a TV station, would take full advantage of the drama in that.

My personal rule is 15 years old. No younger.
 
First off, I applaud the other chasers/spotters who have gotten their kids involved. It's a great opportunity for some one on one time. As a second generation chaser myself, some of my best memories of my dad include trekking over the eastern Dakotas and western MN back in the 70's and 80's. Those trips resulted in memories of not only significant weather events, but just experiences which created memories for a lifetime.

Here is a different perspective. The scenario being not only a child being with on a chase, but who also gets media exposure. As many of you know, my 9 year old son Cullen chases with me about 90% of the time and logs about 10,000 miles per season. Alluding to Drummond's concern of a legal issue arising from having a child involved in a potenially dangerous situation, this past August 24th the tv station I chase for wanted to put myself, Peggy, and Melanie on live after the chase was done. Short version is they also put Cullen on live talking about not only that days event, but his experiences over the past 5 years and the 17 torns he has seen. Not one negative comment from their viewers or any emails off our website resulted. When his mother and I divorced, she obviously could have made a real stink about him chasing with me. She didn't. Her only concern was making sure I waited until our daughter was 4 before taking her with on locals. Just use common sense and the same decision making you use to keep yourself safe.
 
I'm of the opinion that taking your child chasing (safely) is no different than taking them driving on a long trip, or hiking in the mountains, etc. There's always inherent risk, but it is certainly not child endangerment. I consider this enlightenment, and exposure to science in an exciting "laboratory" setting.

That said, this topic has strayed from my original objective. I'm looking for advice and anecdotes from those with experience, not for opinions on whether or not it should be done. And if you don't like kids, please don't reply.
 
This is my brightest storm experience when I was small: My parents are not storm chasers, but back in 2001 we was caught into a severe thunderstorm. Severe weather outbreak began and we were heading back home from psychiatrist's. Well, I was afraid of thunders that time, but then I thought and I even said: Whoa! This is like in Savage Skies! It was so dark that street lights were turned on in some places. I was 11 years old at that time. But well, it was not chasing, it was scheduled trip, but still worth of mentioning to say that I have been young when I have encountered severe thunderstorms on the road.
 
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