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When disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma happen, youth can feel frightened, confused, and insecure. Whether children experience trauma personally, simply see an event unfold on TV, or hear it discussed, it is important for us and our communities to be informed and ready to help them.

That is why more than 60 organizations, including Safe and Sound Schools, have affirmed the National Strategy for Youth Preparedness Education: Empowering, Educating, and Building Resilience. The National Strategy envisions a Nation where youth are empowered to prepare for and respond to disasters.

The National Strategy encourages organizations at national, state, and local levels to elevate the importance of youth preparedness, educate youth on actions they should take before, during and in the aftermath of a disaster, and spread the message of preparedness to their constituents and communities. Whether you are a teacher, parent, guardian, or student, you can help build your school and community’s preparedness. Read more about the National Strategy, or sign up to become an Affirmer organization.

Make School Preparedness a Key Component of Resilient Communities

Because children spend so much time in school, we should make school preparedness a key element, and the National Strategy does that. It is important to note that youth preparedness efforts must be age-appropriate, with educational materials tailored to children’s developmental levels. It is crucial that we prepare students without scaring them.

Programs throughout the United States are already preparing kids for disasters in meaningful ways. Many of these programs readily share their materials at no-cost. The Safe and Sound Schools program is an excellent example of how to help students and school communities to prepare. They offer free toolkits, workshops, and other digital resources, which are great ways to take the first steps toward ensuring your community and equipping youth for any disaster.

Some other options include the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Student Tools for Emergency Planning program or Save the Children’s Prep Rally. The FEMA Youth Preparedness Catalog is a comprehensive list of youth preparedness curricula, training, and programs from across the country. It is another smart place to start when looking to bring a youth preparedness program to your school. FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Technical Assistance Center can also answer any specific questions and help you find tools and resources that fit your situation—making the process much more manageable.

Promoting youth preparedness is a key step in making our schools safer, more resilient, and more secure. Look at what programs already exist, and then adapt them to suit your needs. Doing so will help make our schools safer and develop the next generation of prepared students.

For more information and resources about youth preparedness, check out www.ready.gov/youth-preparedness or email the Youth Preparedness Technical Assistance Center at fema-youth-preparedness@fema.dhs.gov.


Charlotte Porter, Director (A), Individual and Community Preparedness Division, Federal Emergency Management Agency

 

Are you prepared? It’s a timely question for school communities and families.  Across the country spring brings warm weather and more outdoor opportunities.  With the gorgeous weather and added outdoor time we all enjoy, our communities and schools face increased weather and violence related incidents, as well as an annual uptick in physical injuries.

11 YouthSafe and Sound Schools is proud to join FEMA as a National Strategy Affirmer, supporting nationwide youth preparedness and education.

This Saturday, April 30, we celebrate America’s PrepareAthon with countless other national organizations working to keep America’s communities prepared for safety!  We invite you to celebrate with us.  There are many ways you can work together as a family and within your community to increase preparedness and awareness to keep yourselves and those you love safe.

It’s easier than you think!  Here are just a few ideas to get you started and share with family, friends, at school, and work:

  1.  1.  Access Alerts and Warnings–Take a moment to explore emergency notification systems in your community and school.  Register yourself and your family members to receive critical emergency information.

2.  Conduct an Exercise–This could be as simple as an in-home fire drill and family meet-up or helping plan one in your child’s school community.  Consider reaching out to neighbors to share plans and information to boost your safety capability during an emergency.

3.  Update Emergency Supplies–First aid kits, Go Bags, and food storage are great ways to keep critical items at hand when you need them.  Take stock and organize together.

4.  Make a Family Plan–Gather important information and decide on meeting places & communication channels.  Put your plan on paper together with Family Plan Emergency Cards.

5.  Take a Class–Sign up for a CPR or First Aid class in your community.  If you are already certified, consider a refresher or advanced course.

For more fun and easy ways to stay safe, visit https://community.fema.gov/take-action/activities and join us in preparing for safety with America’s PrepareAthon!

-Michele Gay, Safe and Sound Schools