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Teach Youth About Preparedness

September 20, 2021 10:00 AM
By: PEMA

Family sits together on couch with their emergency kit materials

​When is the best time to include youth in preparing for emergencies? Before something happens, of course.

You wouldn't wait until you're half way across the street to learn about the dangers of traffic. Research suggests that youth (from very young to young adult) who are involved with preparedness activities, are more confident and feel empowered during an actual emergency. That can save a life!

Fishing for Preparedness

You may be familiar with the proverb that if you, "Teach a person to fish, they can eat for a lifetime." This can also be applied to preparing for disasters. Engaging kids (young and old) in planning and preparing, using real-life, everyday examples, helps them to learn how to anticipate what they may need before they need it.

For example, you're planning a trip. Have your children pack their own bag and then talk about why they packed certain things. Ask them questions such as:

  • What kind of weather can we expect and what can we pack that we need?
  • Should we pack snacks and water?
  • What happens is someone is injured, do we have a first aid kit?

Take a look at this short video of the PEMA director (who is also a parent). He explains why preparedness is so important and how he includes his family in planning and preparing.

Start with the ABCs

Sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach it. Download this worksheet developed by the CDC and learn the ABCs about protect your child during emergencies in the school day.

Then complete the worksheet along with your child so they know what to expect and what to do.

Then the 1, 2, 3s

Did you know that a tornado has touched down in every county in Pennsylvania (since 1950)?

If you receive a warning for severe weather such as a tornado, make sure your kids know what to do. Download this Know Your Terms Tip Sheet for kids to help them learn where to go, "When Thunder Roars."

They Could Become Disaster Masters

Review your family emergency plan together so they know what to do even if you are not there. (Don't have a family emergency plan? Check out the 30 Days/30 Ways Tips 3 and 4).

Preparedness isn't all fun and games, but parts of it can be.

Kids can play the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Master Game. By making the right choice, kids earn points to get to the next level. Master all the levels and they get their own graphic novel. Visit preparedness games and other materials on the FEMA Ready Kids page.

Never Too Cool for School

Did you know there is an Emergency Preparedness Curriculum for grades 1-12 that teach kids what to do before, during and after an emergency while fostering critical skills such as problem solving, teamwork, creativity, leadership, and communication.

Share these tools with teachers, scout leaders, religious organizations, and school clubs. Teachers and others who work with children understand that children and youth are an important part of our communities and can be vulnerable during disasters.

The 4-1-1 on 9-1-1

Teaching children when to call 911 is just as important as teaching them how to call 911...and what to do when you didn't mean to call 911.

Designed for individuals with autism, this is a helpful, visual tool that describes the various aspects of determining when to call 911.

The Deets on TXT 2 911

When teaching kids how to call 911, they may need to know how to text 911. Text-to-911 is a service that allows you to send a text message to 911 and can be most helpful when:

  • An individual has a speech or hearing impairment, or has a medical emergency that renders them incapable of speech.
  • Making noise may endanger the caller.

Learn how Text-to-911 works and if it is available in your county.


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