When the unexpected happens, will your child know what to do? Disaster can strike anywhere, usually with little to no warning. If your child is put in an emergency situation and doesn't know how to react, they could be severely hurt and may even feel significant anxiety that can follow them for years. With the proper education, though, your child can feel more secure, confident and helpful in the event of a disaster.
Preparing Our Youth
Ultimately, it takes the whole community to educate our youth through preparedness tips and advice. With everyone doing their part, children will understand the seriousness of an emergency situation and strive to become leaders in their classrooms and neighborhoods, ensuring that everybody is prepared for the next disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross and the Department of Education have worked together to create the National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education, a document that outlines a vision for prepared youth in the United States, and how communities can turn that vision into a reality. This document seeks to educate youth and their parents so that communities are better able to prepare for, respond to and recover from future disasters.
How to Prepare Youth for Emergencies and Disasters with Nine Steps
The National Strategy document indicates nine crucial steps that people and organizations at the local, state and federal levels should take to create a strong and prepared youth community. Here's how you can help prepare young people for several types of emergencies and disasters:
- Make it important. Elevating the importance of youth preparedness learning programs in schools and civic organizations allows children to recognize that being prepared is crucial throughout every area of the community.
- Evaluate. If existing youth preparedness programs aren't up to par, develop guidance, tools and up-to-date protective actions in order to ensure that the children in your community are given proper direction.
- Support. Communities, organizations and schools should be able to prepare children without facing unnecessary resistance or interference.
- Create. Establish a relationship between local youth and the first responder community, so that your kids can understand how first responders react in emergency situations. Your kids can also learn from their own heroes what they can do to help in a disaster.
- Link. Connect youth preparedness to family and community participation, so that your child can become an advocate in your area.
- Make school preparedness key. Schools, by their nature, promote broad community participation already, so adding preparedness programs that include curricula, drills and exercises for all local disasters can help children understand what to do when faced with a crisis.
- Build and strengthen. Creating and maintaining partnerships among stakeholder agencies and organizations allows your community to receive up-to-date information about youth preparedness best practices. Local leaders can also be advocates to discuss your community's needs, especially if your area is prone to certain natural disasters.
- Identify. Find opportunities to insert youth preparedness education into youth culture, such as using social media or local ads to initiate a conversation about the importance and effectiveness of preparedness programs.
- Design. Create a sustaining model that designs, develops and delivers valuable programs to train youth in your community. Since certain areas are known to have specific recurring natural disasters, it's important to create a plan that's unique to your community's needs.
By implementing these nine priority steps in your community, your children can receive training to help them feel confident when faced with a disaster. Giving them the tools they need to understand how to prepare for, respond to and recover from several types of emergencies – from fires to floods and more – can make all the difference when disaster actually strikes. For more information about youth preparedness, as well as how you can get involved with the National Preparedness Community or start your own youth preparedness program, visit ready.gov/youth-preparedness