April is Youth Preparedness Month
IEMA, OSFM highlight ways to involve youth in disaster
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[April 12, 2021]
Emergencies and disasters can happen at any
time and anywhere. 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 (IEMA) and
the Office of the State Fire Marshal Office (OSFM) are taking steps
to promote youth preparedness.
“Each year, millions of children are impacted by
disasters,” said IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “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
“Kids practice fire drills each year at school, and families should
practice these drills at home too,” said Matt Perez, Illinois State
Fire Marshal. “The Office of the State Fire Marshall encourages
families to practice their home fire escape plan twice a year. Every
home needs working smoke alarms and a well-thought-out fire escape
plan. Make sure all members of your family can identify two ways out
of each room and a family meeting spot outside the home.”
Tips for incorporating children into disaster preparedness:
Sparky the Fire Dog is
mascot of The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Sparky is
used to help educate kids and parents on fire prevention and safety.
The NFPA has established a Sparky website and Facebook page that
offers a wealth of age-appropriate games, videos, apps and other
activities that make learning about fire safety easy and fun.
Another great resource comes from the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA). FEMA and the American Red Cross offer a disaster
preparedness activity book,
[to top of second
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
FEMA also offers a
Youth Preparedness Council as an opportunity for teenagers and
young adults 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.
Children who are prepared experience less anxiety and feel more
confident during actual emergencies and disasters. Use Youth
Preparedness Month as an opportunity to 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.
For more information about disaster preparedness, visit
Office of Communication and Information]