Six Tips for Integrating Disaster Education Into Your Extension Work

One day you were minding your own business when a colleague came along and talked you into becoming an EDEN delegate. It sounded really good at the time, but now you may wonder how disaster education can be incorporated into your work.

Here are six actions you can take to help reduce the impact of disaster on your communities.

  • Teach your audiences how they can become resilient and resistant to disaster as part of your curriculum. Incorporate preparedness concepts in your regular education efforts. Preparedness is not limited to one Extension program area. Demonstrate how taking steps to protect property and homes from disaster (mitigation) is actually good practice for normal times. Show how determining what natural or man-made disasters citizens are most at risk of experiencing can be used to reduce their vulnerability to those same disasters.
  • Facilitate disaster planning discussions, meetings, workshops. Use ReadyBusiness, Stengthening Community Agrosecurity Planning (S-CAP), Coastal Community Resiliency Index, and other tools to frame the sessions.
  • Promote EDEN, eXtension and state resources that relate to disaster education. For example, states in the Central U.S. this spring can benefit from the Floods and Flooding EDEN topic page, eXtension flood articles and frequently asked questions, publications found on state websites, as well as from regularly scheduled webinars. Include resources in your newsletters, blog posts and other communication tools.
  • Develop partnerships with key people to make sure you are connected at the local, state and national levels. Local key contacts include your county/parish emergency manager, sheriff, fire chief, Citizen Corps, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and county officials. These connections will make communications between your agencies and organizations run more smoothly during a disaster. These partnerships also expand your opportunities to find funding to support your educational efforts.
  • Build and maintain inventory lists of supplies, suppliers, and contacts. Not only will this information be useful in an emergency, you will find it valuable in day-to-day work efforts.
  • Learn the chain of command used in an emergency or disaster. Most state and local responders use the Incident Command System for managing crises. Knowing the accepted protocol gives you credibility with your local emergency responders and emergency management agency. This knowledge is key to your access to those in need during a disaster so that you can deliver appropriate resources.

Regards, Virginia Morgan, EDEN Chair