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Preparing and Engaging Youth

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Release date: 
September 23, 2013
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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Emergencies can be scary for people of every age; they can be especially scary for youth because they generally have little control over how their family or community has prepared, and how they will respond.  Too often youth are viewed as a liability rather than an asset, when instead they have so much to offer their families and their communities if only they were better prepared and better engaged.

“Involving youth in the preparedness process teaches them about what to do, who to contact, and what the plan is,” said Regional Administrator MaryAnn Tierney, “it also reduces some of the fear associated with an emergency, but most importantly, youth have excellent ideas that can help everyone prepare for a disaster.”

FEMA recognizes the value that youth can provide, and for that very reason established the Youth Preparedness Council last year.  The Council provides an avenue for FEMA to engage the youth population, taking into account their perspectives, feedback and opinions. 

Just a few of the accomplishments from this year’s Youth Preparedness Council include designing a “Be Prepared Day” for the community to educate everyone on disaster preparedness, establishing a neighborhood response team, and conducting health and wellness checks.  Talk to youth in your community about any ideas they may have and help them where you can. 

Young people are capable of playing an important role in emergency preparedness, and have the unique potential to help their communities be safe, stronger and more resilient before, during and after a disaster.  As such, we all have a vested interest in engaging and empowering youth to become active participants in individual, family, and community preparedness.

You can engage the youth in your family and your community by teaching them about what hazards are common in your area, explaining to them the warning signs are, and what to do if a certain hazard should strike.  When you develop your Family Emergency Plan, make sure to have your children at the table with you so they understand the plan, can ask questions, and can provide ideas for what to do in a disaster.

By teaching youth about how to communicate if your family is separated in a disaster you can build the resiliency and capability of your entire family.  Other skills like teaching youth safety skills such as first aid, CPR, and how to safely use a fire extinguisher gets them involved in the process and makes everyone better prepared.  Talk to youth that you know about what programs they would like to be involved in and encourage them to explore options like Teen CERT teams.

Youth of any age can be involved in the emergency preparedness process; figure out what’s right for your children and invite them into the process.  You could be very surprised by the ideas they have and how much they can help your family and your community in an emergency.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.  Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at and Follow us on Twitter at


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Last Updated: 
September 23, 2013 - 10:22