Three Disaster Preparedness Games for Children

Prepared by Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant. 

Opening page graphic for Disaster Masters online gameDisaster Master is an 8-level game that tests children’s knowledge about how to react before, during, and after a disaster. The player must answer questions correctly to accumulate enough points to unlock the next level, which include: wildfire, tornado, hurricane/blackout, home fire, winter storm, tsunami/earthquake, thunderstorm/lightning, and the hot seat. Each level tells a story and asks multiple choice questions about what the characters should do to survive the disaster. If the question is answered correctly the player continues to the next level, but if it is answered incorrectly the game could be ended. A graphic novel is also available to print after every level. This game is an easy, entertaining, and engaging way to help teach your children about what to do to prepare for an emergency. A Spanish version is also available.

Opening screen shot of the Build a Kit online gameBuild a Kit  places you in multiple scenarios and tells you to pick items to place in your emergency kit. Once you submit your items it tells you what you have included and what you forgotten. You can print your list at the end of the game. This game, available in English and Spanish, is a quick and easy way for children to begin learning what goes into an emergency kit so they can help prepare for a disaster.

Disaster Hero is a multilevel video game that tests children’s (grades 1 through 8) knowledge about natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Disaster Hero allows the player to choose an experience level, and then launches into an age appropriate narration. Each level contains games pertaining to what to do before, during and after each disaster, including: make a kit, get to a safe room, stay informed, clean up, and first aid. In each game questions pertaining to the disaster at hand are asked, and points are given for correct answers. Each disaster has a bonus round where the knowledge about that disaster is tested once again. This game is an interesting and entertaining way to help your children solidify what they should do before, during, and after a natural disaster.

 

 

Four Tips for Back to School Safety

Written by Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant.

1. Add an emergency supply kit to your child’s book bag or locker.
Back-to-School-Internet-Safety
You know you need an emergency supply kit at home. Do you know that  having a kit for your child at school is also important? The kit may come in handy if the school goes on lockdown or if there is another disaster or emergency. Make sure everything in the kit is allowed. Most schools do not allow knives on campus or medicine outside the nurse’s office.
Include emergency contact information cards in your child’s kit, book bag, or another accessible location. Even though your child may be old enough to memorize emergency contact numbers, he or she might forget the number during an emergency, or might be in a situation where someone else needs to call.

2. Use a map to mark your child’s school route, designating safe zones where he or she can get help during an emergency.
If your child is walking or riding a bike to school show him or her the way a few times. The child should be comfortable taking the route. Remind him or her that shortcuts are not permitted. Point out places along the way that offer shelter if there is ever bad weather, or some other threat. These places could be other schools, community centers, libraries, or friends’ houses. Having these safe zones will make you and your child feel more secure on the journey to and from school.

3. Review the school’s safety plan with your child.
Most schools are now required to post tornado and fire evacuation routes in every classroom. In addition, each school will have an emergency operations plan. You can ask the school principal for a copy. Also ask what plans they have in place to protect against intruders.

4. Teach your child how to react in an emergency.
Teachers cannot always protect children when things go wrong. Talk to your child about these events without using fear tactics, and explain what he or she should do in similar situations. For example, your child should know what to do if a person shoots a gun on the school grounds or in the building. Students of varying ages will benefit from the Auburn University Department of Public Safety video demonstrating what to do if there is an active shooter nearby. Teach your child about ALICE; it may keep him or her safe.

ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. The letters do not have to be used in this order, the situation determines what should be done. Alert refers to how you learn about the danger. Lockdown refers to locking and barricading the door between you and the aggressor. Inform refers to telling the authorities where you are and where the aggressor is. Counter should be used if the aggressor makes it into your safe area. Do not just hide. Distract and disrupt the aggressor by throwing whatever is at your disposal: bookbags, books, desks, or whatever is within reach. The police suggest that Evacuate is the best option; remove yourself and anyone else from harms way if at all possible.

For more resources about helping children before and after disasters visit this website.

Meet a Delegate Monday: Andy Vestal

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Dr. Andy Vestal, who will have a breakout session at the EDEN Annual Meeting. 

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN? Dr. Andy Vestal

I got involved in EDEN about a month before Hurricane Katrina, in July of 2005. I was immediately led to the effort because of a six-year grant for animal disease and homeland security response and recovery. Within a month of being in this position, Hurricane Katrina hit followed by Hurricane Rita, and we realized we had a lot to do preparedness-wise. The fall of 2005 was my first visit to the EDEN Annual Meeting in Fargo, North Dakota. It was an experience for me to see the overall mission and goals of the organization: to help people help themselves.

2. Without divulging too much of your annual meeting material, can you tell us how the strike teams were formed?

After any incident an after action report is filed. After [Hurricane] Ike the report stated there was high priority to establish mission ready teams of seasoned County Extension Agents, CEA, that were deployable. The first teams were established in the Gulf Coast, where 7 million Texans live.

3. What are some of the disasters that have affected Texas over the past few years and how have you been involved?

In 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit us it was a challenge; 32,000 families lost their homes along with a large agricultural loss. Hurricane Ike, though only a category 2 hurricane, was about 450 miles wide. It pushed an 18 foot wall of water 20 miles inland, covering mostly ranchland that had about 35,000 head of cattle. We realized that within 72 hours the cattle would have saline toxicity, because all they had to drink was salt water. We deployed our strike teams to create Livestock Supply Points, LSP’s, and from September 13 to 30 we received and distributed over 125 semi-truck loads of feed and hay. By week 3, we started shipping about 15,000 head of cattle into other parts of the state.

In 2011 every geographic region of Texas had challenges with wildfires; there were over 32,000 in the state, and dozens were 50,000 acres or greater; over 3 million acres burnt. Our Livestock Supply Points and CEA strike teams were again activated to stand up 13 LSP’s. Our goal was not to put out fires, but to help landowners with displaced livestock. We received and distributed approximately 120 semi-truck loads of hay and feed. We were much better prepared, because we had about 50 County Extension Agents that were seasoned, trained, and mission ready.

4. What has been the most rewarding thing you have done in terms of disaster preparedness for your state?

The Hurricane Ike recovery, “Operation No Fences” on YouTube shows the land and livestock owners response, along with county agents and other volunteer organizations. The support we built for them was rewarding to our county extension agents because we had farmers and ranchers that had lost everything. To find that we had a mobilized team supporting them was unexpected, but extremely helpful. We estimate we saved the USDA indemnity program more than $10 million by shipping cattle out, since it saved their lives, and it costs about $600 a head to bury cattle. Also about 80% of the cattle shipped out had brands and/or ear tags; we had brand inspectors to help identify the rightful owners. Through these efforts we were able to maintain the strong fabric of the local agricultural economy in that area.

5. Have you worked on any multi-state projects through EDEN and what have those been?

I have had two major multi-state projects through EDEN. Both were funded by the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, at Texas A&M. The goal of the first was to strengthen crisis communications. We adopted the Association for Communication Excellence, ACE, group’s curriculum called “Media Relations Made Easy.” We incorporated an animal disease issue scenario into the training and partnered with multiple land grant universities to host a series of six workshops using that curriculum. We had about 180 Ag communicators from 29 states and Canada attend.

The second project was partnering with 22 state veterinarians and extension programs to test and establish an animal health network in those states. This program is still up and running. The mission of that project was to improve upon the state veterinarian’s capability to have early detection and rapid response to animal diseases, especially in smaller, hobby farms.

6. What do you think is the most important thing EDEN delegates can do to help the citizens in their states?

Learn from other state’s experiences. There’s a lot of different material and experiences that states can learn from each other. When we learn from each other we may reinvent something we learned from Washington State to fit our state, but the fact that we have guidance is extremely valuable.

If you haven’t yet registered for 2014 EDEN Annual Meeting, follow this link to register.