The STEP Program: Students and Teachers Towards Emergency Preparedness
Disasters impact children and youth across the United States. We know this from a first-hand experience and have seen families (and children) displaced from their homes due to flooding and fire issues. This is a tough reality to face; interruption in children’s lives can cause distraction in school and emotional distress. This is one of the many reasons SERVPRO of Bellevue West works hard to make sure families and their children can get back into their homes as quickly as possible following a disaster.
When children prepare and practice for an emergency, it improves their ability to take immediate action and feel more comfortable, less shock, in an emergency situation. With training, they can actively take part in preparedness in their communities, from home to school. But students, teachers, and parents know that between classes, testing, and extracurricular activities, making the time can be challenging. A new program in place helps teachers be proactive about implementing emergency preparedness training. Many schools nationwide have begun using Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP). FEMA piloted STEP in 2008 for fourth and fifth grade classrooms. STEP’s basic lessons are only an hour long. Students learn skills to build an emergency kit and a family communications plan. These basic lessons taught together build the foundation for the program, or can stand alone. Children are able to bring home what they have learned and share with their families. Teachers can add lessons and customize situations about disasters that might happen in their area- for example tsunamis for coastal cities and hurricanes in the mid-west. STEP includes lessons about fires, severe weather (including extreme heat and cold, tornadoes, and hurricanes), and earthquakes. There are also lessons to include geography, science, English, art, and math. Throughout, instructors can use STEP’s “Disaster Dodgers” video series, handouts, homework assignments, and classroom activities to bring the lessons to life. These features make it adaptable on every level and help create real life situations that children can relate to. Practice makes perfect and this si certainly something worth practicing in school and at home.
SERVPRO of Bellevue West is passionate about emergency preparedness in schools and our local communities. If you are a teacher and would like emergency preparedness coloring books or emergency kit flyers for your classrooms please contact us at 425-454-3900.