Prep Rally Brings Community Together to Keep Kids Safe

Elizabeth-pulliam headshot

Elizabeth Pulliam, Program Specialist

Kentucky

October 7, 2014

 

Lightning strikes as an instantaneous thunderclap bursts around your house. You begin to wonder if the batteries in your flashlight are working or if yesterday’s grocery purchases will spoil before the power is restored. You see, your child is calm and knows exactly where to find the flashlight. These are behaviors she learned from Save the Children’s Prep Rally program– new emergency program that teaches kids basic preparedness skills through interactive activities and games.

Tucked into the heart of Appalachia, Owsley County, Kentucky is a very rural area with disaster risks covering everything from flooding and tornadoes to wildfires and earthquakes. Children are the most vulnerable during disaster, and as a nation, we are underprepared to protect them during emergencies. Twenty-one states lack basic regulations for protecting children in schools and child care and 74 percent of parents don’t feel very prepared to protect their kids. The Prep Rally Program was created with the understanding – that we can’t prevent disasters from happening, but it’s how we prepare for them that will make the difference.

Owsley County community leaders, including school staff, emergency services, first responders and government officials, banded together to plan a Prep Rally that would help children in Owsley Elementary School’s Afterschool program be ready to weather any storm. Photo Aug 28, 3 18 38 PM

The Prep Rally covers four basic Prep Steps that help build children’s resilience: 

  1. Recognizing Risks
  2. Planning Ahead
  3. Gathering Wise Supplies
  4. During Disaster

During after-school programming in the week leading up to their Prep Rally, Owsley students read books about preparedness and survival as part of their literacy lessons. They discussed the risks for natural disasters in their community and learned how to design a safety plan at home and how to reunite with their families should disaster strike.

On the day of the community Prep Rally event, the children kicked things off with a Get Ready Get Safe cheers and the Mayor of Booneville declared it Get Ready Get Safe Emergency Preparedness Day! The mayor also led the Preparedness Pledge, encouraging the children to talk with and make a plan with their families. Then children rotated through five themed stations including the Pillowcase Project, Red Cross coping skills, fire safety, tornado safety and water safety. Children were able to talk with local firefighters and police as well as climb aboard and explore fire truck and emergency medical helicopter.

“The students became more familiar with the types of disasters and how to be better prepared to cope with them,” said Phyllis Bowman, Owsley’s afterschool program coordinator. “Even though we are a small community with limited resources, the response from our emergency people was great. This is indicative of their support of our children."

1055In addition to getting kids pumped to prep, the community Prep Rally created a dialogue between schools to work with emergency services agencies, and government officials about how to best prepare and protect Owsley County.

“The Prep Rally provided the children of Owsley County a valuable educational experience with the emergency services and preparedness personnel in our area,” said Bart Patton, Chief of the Booneville-Owsley County Volunteer Fire Department. “It encouraged the children to go home and prepare, along with their parents and guardians, plans to help them through disasters safely. We were all proud to be part of the program.”

The Owsley Elementary event is just one example of a successful Prep Rally- which has been implemented in 10 states serving thousands of children and families. The best part of the Prep Rally curriculum is that it can be shaped to fit the specific needs of your community—whether it’s a scout troop, afterschool, summer camp, or the beginning of tornado season.

Is Your Community Prepared to Protect Kids in Emergencies?

Get the FREE downloadable Prep Rally Kit: www.savethechildren.org/PrepRally

And register your Community Prep Rally for the chance for Save the Children ambassador Lassie to visit your event!

For more information, email GetReady@savechildren.org

Ready and Able in Vietnam

Today’s entry is a guest blog from Le Thi Bich Hang and Nguyen Van Gia, my colleagues in Save the Children’s Vietnam Country Office. I met Hang and Gia during my last trip to Vietnam when, alongside Country Director Huy Sinh Pham and

The Tough Got Going: Managing a Disaster, Inside and Out

You know that old cliché: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I recently saw evidence of this in spades when Hurricane Sandy not only hit the Northeast—but also hit the Save the Children headquarters and, what’s worse, many of our staff members’ homes. It’s fascinating to see how people react when their lives are upended by a disaster, especially when they spend so much of their own lives helping others though crises. So when calamity struck in their own backyard, I saw over and over again what my Save

Keeping Kids Safe…Before and After Sandy

After my visit to a Red Cross shelter in New Jersey yesterday, I am more convinced than ever that we must urgently do a better job protecting kids in natural disasters than what we have done so far.

 

Save the Children began emergency work in the US in a much bigger way after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, just over 7 years ago. I clearly remember the day of the storm when we made the decision to send a small team to Baton Rouge,

Moussa’s story

When they brought Moussa over and laid him in my arms, my heart stopped for a minute. He was barely breathing and was so frail, I was afraid he might die as I held him. Though he was more than two months old, his arms and legs were tiny and frail and his breathing was labored. Here in a small village outside Diema in the West African nation of Mali, I saw what the face of hunger in the latest food crisis in Africa really looks like. It is the face of Moussa.

 

Moussa’s mother, just 18, brought him over to us when she saw the Save the Children car drive up. He had been identified that day by a health worker trained by Save the Children and now we needed to get him to the town for help. Moussa and his mom were bundled into the car and they sped away to the center in Diema, about 10 kilometers away, where Save the Children-trained staff were there to help him and food and medicine was available from other partners like UNICEF.

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Keeping Expectant Mothers and Children Protected during Wildfires

DeMarrais picJeanne-Aimee De Marrais, Advisor, Domestic Emergencies, Save the Children

Washington, D.C.

June 28, 2012


Wildfires continue to wreak havoc in Colorado, forcing more than 32,000 people to evacuate their homes, and destroying over 15,000 acres of land, according to this report by Reuters.

Of the thousands of families uprooted by the Colorado fires, or during any disaster for that matter, pregnant women and children are often the most vulnerable. That’s why Save the Children is releasing the following two-partguidance—a combination of tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and our own disaster preparedness experts—tohelp expectant mothers and families with young children stay safe and protected during the Colorado wildfires or any fire emergency. 

Tips for expectant mothers and parents with young children facing evacuation

  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and have important items (such as copies of medical records and medications) ready to go— you may not have much time.
  • When checking into a shelter or temporary housing, alert the staff if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
  • If pregnant, seek prenatal care even if it is not with your usual provider. 
  • Make sure health care providers at the shelter know about any special needs or health problems that you or your child have, or any medicines you might be taking (both over the counter and prescription.)
  • If you don’t have your infant’s medicine with you, ask health care providers at the shelter for assistance in getting it.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty of breast milk or formula, and you drink enough water.
  • Pregnant women and children should stay indoors, if possible, to keep from Avoid breathing smoke or fumes, rest often and stay indoors if possible.
  • If you’re pregnant, rest often and get plenty of water.

 (Guidelines derived from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. To see the complete guidance–Wildfires: Information for Pregnant Women and Parents of Young Infants–please visit http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/Emergency/WildFires.htm)

For more information on how to keep you and your children safe during a wildfire, visit the website of the Center for Disease and Control Prevention.

General fire safety tips for families

Save the Children wishes to remind parents, teachers, and caregivers about the importance of child fire safety. About 80 percent of all fire-related deaths and injuries occur in the home, and young children are at a particularly high risk. They may not understand the danger or may not be able to escape. Children under the age of 5 account for almost half of all home fire victims. Children in the poorest homes face the greatest risk of death. Every family member should know exactly what to do in case of a fire emergency. Precious seconds can be lost when someone can’t find a way out in the dark or does not know how to release a window lock. Having a family fire safety plan and practicing it will save lives.

Here are some tips for keeping families safe. For further guidance specific to your community, contact your local fire department.

  • Talk to children about fire safety. Children accidentally set many of the fires that harm them. Teach children not to play with matches and lighters. If they see matches or lighters within reach, teach them not to touch but go tell a grown up right away.
  • Teach children the DON’T HIDE, GO OUTSIDE rule in the event of a fire. Fires are scary, but they should NEVER hide in closets or under beds when there is a fire.
  • To escape during a fire, teach children to FALL & CRAWL. It is easier to breath in a fire if you stay low while getting out. Use the back of your hand to test if a door is hot before you open it. If it is hot, try to use another way out.
  • Practice STOP, DROP and ROLL: If clothes catch on fire, don’t run.  Stop where you are, drop to the ground and roll your body back and forth until the fire is out.  Running makes the fire burn faster.
  • Teach children to never go back into a burning building for any reason.  If someone is missing, tell a firefighter.
  • Make a family fire plan and practice it. The plan should include identifying two exits from each room and marking an outside meeting place. Practice escaping by both exits to be sure windows are not stuck and screens can be quickly taken out.
  • Make sure street signs and address numbers are easily visible so fire trucks and emergency responders can find where they need to be.
  • Teach children what a fire alarm sounds like and make sure that it will effectively wake them in the middle of the night.
  • Ensure smoke detectors are installed on every floor and in the sleeping areas of your home, and that batteries are changed twice per year. Carbon Monoxide detectors are also recommended. Test these alarms to make sure they can effectively wake family members.
  • If there are security bars or locks on doors, make sure all family members know how to release them.  All family members should be able to escape from the second floor.
  • Know your local emergency number. Put stickers and magnets with emergency numbers on your refrigerator and every telephone in the house.

Parents should also take steps to learn about their child’s school or child care fire safety plan, as part of an overall emergency plan. They should also ensure that any family friends have evacuation plans in case a child spends the night elsewhere.

Remembering 9/11

Today here in CT where I live dawned much like that morning 10 years ago which really did change all our lives forever. A clear blue sky, a crispness of fall in the morning air, a day you were happy to get up and get going.

 

Unlike today, a Sunday, that September 11 ten years ago was a work day and I headed to Save the Children’s offices in Westport, CT after dropping various of my kids at the bus and school. For some reason, I did not have the radio on as was my usual habit, so I had no idea of the tragedy that was unfolding. One of my colleagues said to me rather off-handedly as I was coming into the building that a plane had run into the World Trade Center tower. I imagined a little plane and maybe a “dent” in the building, never imagining the horrendous events that would unfold.

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A Decade after 9/11, Is Your State Prepared to Protect Children?

Kaleba_head shot Jen Kaleba, Director, Marketing and Communications

September 9, 2011

Westport, CT


On September 11, 2001, Donna Fowler was running her own in-home daycare in a suburb of Washington, D.C. In her care were eight children, several of whom had parents working at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. While children were playing, Donna answered the persistent ringing of her phone.

“Turn on the TV,” her friend gasped.

And like millions of Americans, Donna watched as the second plane hit the World Trade Center.

She turned off the TV quickly, put on a composed face for the children, and turned the radio on in the background so she could keep tabs on the situation without alarming the kids.

And then a plane struck the Pentagon. Close to home and where one parent worked.

“I thought, oh my god, I have these eight little people in my care and what am I going to do with them if their parents don’t come back today?” Donna remembers. “I had absolutely no plans in place. They were talking about evacuation and I thought, ‘Where do I go? How would parents know where I was going?’ The feeling inside was of total dread not knowing if parents were going to come back and what I would do if they did not.”

The thing is, if you’d asked Donna the day before 9/11, she would have told you she thought she was prepared for an emergency.

“I knew that I had emergency numbers for children and I knew where their parents worked. I felt very comfortable up until that point,” she recalls. Then, reflecting on the irony, “I didn’t realize how unprepared I really was; how prepared I should have been.”

Javits_day_care_evacuation_use_0829_through_11_29 (2)Children are evacuated from a daycare outside the Javits Center in New York after the August 23, 2011 earthquake.    (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Not only did Donna not have an adequate plan, but across the country, states didn’t require the plans in the first place. Today, those very requirements are outlined in Save the Children’s just-released fourth annual National Report Card on Protecting Children During Disasters.

In it, we look at all 50 states and the District of Columbia to see what states have adopted four very basic standards of preparedness for kids in child care and schools—basics like evacuation and relocation plans, or plans to reunite kids with their families. Today, only 17 states meet all four requirements.

You can read about the standards here, check out how your state stacks up, and download our “School & Child Care Check List” that you can take to your kid’s caregivers or school administrators and ask, “Do you have a plan?”

As for Donna, her life changed on 9/11. After the children were reunited with their families (the father who was supposed to be at the Pentagon forgot some papers at his house and was late to work; it took the mother on Capitol Hill 20 hours to get back to her daughter) Donna swore to herself that she would never let another child care worker feel the way she felt that day.

She became a staunch advocate for disaster preparedness for child care facilities, testifying before the Maryland legislature on behalf of Save the Children to get our standards passed. Today she is the Vice President of the National Association for Family Child Care, pushing for Maryland to go even further in its readiness to keep kids safe during disasters.

More than 67 million children spend approximately 2,000 hours in schools and child care every year. Let’s work together, with people like Donna and you, to make sure more states get an A+ next year.