SPRINGFIELD -- Emergencies and disasters can happen at any time. Disaster planning, response and recovery efforts should always take into account the unique needs of children, who make up roughly a quarter of the United States population. That is why this month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and county emergency management agencies, are taking steps to promote youth preparedness. Starting or getting involved with a youth preparedness program is a great way to enhance a community’s resilience and help develop future generations of prepared adults.
“Each year, millions of children are impacted by natural disasters,” said Acting IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “By empowering communities to make preparedness a priority we are building safer, stronger and more resilient communities before, during and after a disaster.”
Studies have shown, children are positive influencers in their households. Children can effectively bring the message of preparedness home to their families. Participating in youth preparedness programs empowers children to become leaders at home and in their schools and communities.
Tips for incorporating children into disaster preparedness:
Promote Interactive activities within your family. One way to do this is by involving children in the development of a family emergency plan
Use real world events to teach about emergency situations and disasters. Using media coverage of current disasters (Floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, power outages), talk to children about how your family would respond if this happened to you. Utilizing your family emergency plan, discuss where would you go, what would you do and how you will ensure their safety during an emergency. Children who are prepared experience less anxiety and feel more confident during actual emergencies and disasters.
Introduce older children to ways to be proactive about disaster preparedness. FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council
offers youth leaders an opportunity to serve on a national council. During their two-year term, the youth leaders complete both a local and national-level project to share ideas regarding youth disaster preparedness.
For younger children, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has collaborated with the American Red Cross to produce a disaster preparedness activity book, Prepare with Pedro
. This booklet is designed to encourage youth and their families to be better prepared for disasters by offering safety advice alongside crosswords, coloring pages, matching games and more.