RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN – Although public awareness of disasters is heightened in certain months of the year, there is never a wrong time to prepare for disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides several publications that inform families how to prepare for disasters and rebuild after they strike. The Hazard Mitigation branch of FEMA promotes efforts and techniques to reduce the loss of life and property in natural disasters. The Community Education and Outreach (CEO), one of the departments in the branch, specializes in distributing these publications in communities recently affected by disasters. Through CEO, communities become more aware of the effects of disasters while learning methods to protect their families and homes from becoming substantially damaged in the future.
CEO specialists set up booths in various locations throughout communities to inform and encourage families to prepare for disasters. Sites include, but are not limited to, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and local hardware stores. Specialists set up displays in front of the stores and present information on locations of nearby FEMA registration sites, emergency kit supplies (e.g., food, water, flashlights, and batteries), and first aid kits. They also distribute publications on preparedness, rebuilding techniques, and the National Flood Insurance Program.
CEO specialists educated families on disaster preparedness at a Lowe’s in Smyrna, Tennessee, while making children the primary focus. The specialists learned of a children’s workshop Lowe’s hosts every other Saturday that is designed for children and their parents to work as a team to build an item. The CEO team felt it was a great opportunity for parents to share disaster awareness with their children. The group was invited to attend a workshop, and they experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“The workshops were perfect,” CEO specialist Guzman-Cabrera said. “They helped us advise the children that they could have what they need in case of an emergency. Trust me; they will be the first to find the kit during a storm.”
The children were very happy to receive the FEMA publication, Ready…Set…Prepare: A Disaster Preparedness Activity Book. This publication, offered in two versions (ages 4-7 and ages 8-11), includes information on disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and fires. “We found the event to be quite fruitful,” said Guzman-Cabrera. “Kids are the backbone of society. Participating in putting together a disaster kit with their families helps them in knowing they will be safe during a storm.”