Emergency Preparedness: It’s Not Just for Adults!
Natural disasters can happen anywhere and anytime, and they aren’t just affecting adults. While it may be easy to stress the importance of emergency preparedness to an adult, that is not the case for youth and teens. Because of this, communications must be tailored to grab youth and teen’s attention and keep them engaged. But how do you do this? Some government agencies and nonprofits are getting a little added help from zombies, Elmo, and energetic cartoon characters.
Yes, you read that right. Zombies, Elmo, and cartoon characters are just a few of the ways used to target teens and youth. Check out these fun and interactive communications aimed to increase teens and youth involvement in the emergency planning and preparedness process:
- No fear, Elmo is here! Sesame Street’s Let’s Get Together! Planning Together for Emergencies is a series of videos, worksheets, and activity books that engages both parents and children in the basic planning steps for emergencies
- American Red Cross Masters of Disaster curriculum is tailored to elementary and middle school ages to educate children through a series of ready-to-go lesson plans. The program helps children prepare for emergency events and build skills to adapt to unexpected situations
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer teens the preparedness knowledge to survive even a zombie apocalypse. CDC’s Zombie Preparedness takes a more fictitious and comical approach to preparing teens for emergency preparedness. Teens can take part in zombie social media, read zombie novella, and decorate their room in zombie memorabilia all centered around emergency preparedness
- The Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) offers several kid friendly and family oriented tools and resources to get kids actively engaged in emergency preparedness. Word searches, go-bag games and emergency-kit scavenger hunts are just a few of the fun preparedness-themed activities that FEMA offers. FEMA also communicates preparedness through two fun cartoon characters named Flat Stanley and Flat Stella
So, do these communication strategies work?
YES – but with a little help from parents and the community. These strategies work because they actively engage kids and teens in the message. The difference is hands-on learning as opposed to traditional lecturing. However, it may require a little reinforcement from the parents and community in order to make sure youth follow through and understand the message behind the fun and quirky campaigns. Emergencies are no joking matter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little light-hearted fun to engage the whole family in understanding the importance of being ready.
Don’t wait until an emergency strikes! There are a lot of resources out there – Get started now with an emergency preparedness plan that works for you and your family!