A shrill whistle sounds and 30 children shout in unison: “Don’t be scared, be prepared!”
More than 90 fourth-graders at Lincoln-Juarez Elementary in Otay Mesa West got a lesson in disaster preparedness Tuesday, August 9 as part of a County Office of Emergency Services (OES) coordinated program. The County’s OES for Kids program partners with the American Red Cross, the Department of Animal Services, Health and Human Services Agency and local fire departments when available.
The OES for Kids program brings emergency responders and health officials together to talk to children about disasters that could occur in San Diego County such as earthquakes and wildfires, and what their families can do to prepare before a disaster as well as what to do during and after one occurs.
“We know you’re going to take everything you learned here today and share the information with your parents, your families, your neighbors and your friends,” OES for Kids coordinator Beverly Randolph tells the kids.
Three different classrooms rotated through four stations where the children learned about family disaster kits by playing computer games, proper sanitation and handwashing from a public health nurse, disaster preparedness from the American Red Cross, and how to prepare a kit and care for your pet or pets in the event of an evacuation.
By involving children in emergency preparedness, they are given a role and responsibility in their household in the event of a disaster. At this age, many children tend to focus on helping their family pets, generally a manageable task.
Student Brittany Bailey, 9, rattled off a long list of things she learned from the program ranging from covering your cough to what people should do with their pets in a disaster.
“We don’t leave our pets in an evacuation, we bring them,” she said.
Brittany said she plans to go home and make a kit for her pet which includes his medicine, his food, his water and his records.
At the end of the program, the students gather on the rug and Randolph gives kids an oral quiz on what they learned at the various stations. The students’ hands fly upward sometimes before she is even done asking questions such as how many gallons of water a person needs per day to survive. The student with the correct answer wins an OES T-shirt for a prize.
The students all receive a certificate saying they are disaster ready and a bag of disaster preparedness information for them to take home to their parents.