11 August 2011

How to teach your kids about emergency preparedness

Tuesday's post covered six back-to-school preparedness tips for your family. Following along with my "kids and back-to-school" theme, here are a variety of online and/or printable resources to help teach your children about being prepared:

Video courtesy of Sesame Workshop via YouTube
  • Sesame Street's Let’s Get Ready! Planning Together for Emergencies: This is a great website for introducing the basics of emergencies and preparedness to your very young children. As you'd expect, there are videos that entertain kids while teaching them, like the one shown above. There are also printable activities and a step-by-step online guide to creating a family emergency plan with a downloadable form to collect your family's contact information.

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Ready Kids website: Primarily geared toward grades 4 and 5, this website has lots of online preparedness-related games and activities. Interspersed within the fun stuff are downloadable preparedness kit checklist and family emergency planning documents that present the basic Ready.gov suggestions, but repackaged for kids. Your child can even "Graduate from Readiness U," which is an online quiz to help them test their knowledge of preparedness.

  • Citizen Corps' Youth Preparedness page: With ties to FEMA, some of the materials from this page duplicate some resources available from other sites on this list. Still, there are a few useful and unique tools. For example, one report worth a look is titled Bringing Youth Preparedness Education to the Forefront, which provides some insight (based on studies) into how kids respond to different approaches to preparedness teaching. Another link that's very helpful is the Catalogue of Youth Disaster Preparedness Education Resources. It provides a 22-page list of online and offline resources directed toward educating young people about emergency preparedness. Some of the things listed are in-person training provided at camps, kids-oriented groups (e.g., Boy/Girl Scouts), or other organizations. Check the listing to see what's available in your state! (Plus, encouraging your kids to get involved in the Scouts or 4-H programs will help teach other self-reliance skills too!)

  • American Red Cross' Masters of Disaster educator's resources: This site provides access to entire curriculums of information on disaster preparedness. You can select resources geared toward grades K-2, 3-5, or 6-8. Once you pick a grade range, you're presented with a list of topics related to disasters and dealing with them. Select your desired topic and you can then download a variety of full lesson plans that include goals, learning objectives, and key terms, as well as the lesson materials themselves. While aimed at educators, these materials can still be helpful for parents in many cases — even more so if you home school your children.

  • Discovery Education's Ready Classroom website: The main page starts with an interactive US map of natural disasters, which allows you to select a disaster and see the states most at risk, or pick a state and see what disasters are most likely to affect their residents. There are also handy links to downloadable checklists and planning documents, just like many of the above sites. In addition, there are learning videos, again divided into grade-appropriate ranges of K-2, 3-5, or 6-8. There's even a pet and family section to help you with preparedness for your furry family members.
Since September is Emergency Preparedness Month, your kids may get exposed to some disaster planning materials, but don't assume that. It best to take matters into your own hands and be sure your children learn about how your family is prepared. Doing so also allows you to revisit your preparedness skills routinely, helping them develop the self-reliance that will serve them well for the rest of their life.

Your turn: how do you teach your children about preparedness? What's worked best, or not worked at all?  


  1. My wife and I take the little one camping - if you rough it, that's like survival preparedness training done as a vacation. Also, I think it's important to foster a love of the outdoors in kids, you don't see enough of that anymore.

    1. Camping is an excellent way of learning those kinds of skills, and is how I learned much as a child. Boy/Girls Scouts and 4-H are two other excellent methods for kids to learn do-it-yourself and self-reliant skills too.