Empowering Children in Disaster Preparedness – Youth Programs


Children play an integral role in our community as the leaders of tomorrow, but are often the most vulnerable during a disaster. It’s important to ensure their protection by equipping them with the knowledge needed to identify and react to any given situation. As lead in the State’s emergency response, Cal OES has compiled a list of youth preparedness programs designed to empower children in becoming disaster-ready and proactive leaders in their communities.

For a full list of Cal OES and partner programs available, parents and guardians can visit our webpage.


Grades K-12

  • FireWorks Educational Program:FireWorks is an educational program about the science of wildland fire, designed for students in grades K-12. It is highly interdisciplinary and students learn about properties of matter, chemical and physical processes, ecosystem fluctuations and cycles, habitat and survival, and human interactions with ecosystems.
  • FEMA’s “Be a Hero!” Youth Emergency Preparedness Program:This program is designed to provide students in grades 1-12 with the knowledge, awareness and life-saving skills needed to prepare for a variety of emergencies and disasters.
  • FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Programs: Starting or getting involved with a youth preparedness program is a great way to enhance a community’s resilience and help develop future generations of prepared adults.
  • Don’t Mess with Mercury – A Mercury Spill Prevention Initiative for Schools:Mercury is the substance most frequently involved in school-related hazardous materials incidents. This resource from the Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) helps middle school students learn about the dangers of elemental mercury and actions to take for a safer school environment.
  • Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT): CERT is a national program of volunteers trained in disaster preparedness and emergency response. Through Teen CERT, teens can serve and help take care of their schools, community, and homes.
  • Youth Preparedness Council via FEMA:The Youth Preparedness Council (YPC) brings together youth leaders interested in supporting disaster preparedness by completing disaster preparedness projects nationally and locally. YPC members regularly meet with staff and attend the annual YPC Summit.
  • Volcano Hazards Program: The USGS focuses its volcanic hazards education efforts on engaging children, the public, and public officials in narratives about volcanic impacts to communities similar to their own. By both personalizing the potential future volcanic risks and discussing the eruptive history, hazards, and vulnerabilities in their communities, residents gain the information and motivation required to become disaster resilient.

Grades 4-5

  • Cal OES Preparedness Ambassadors Program– A statewide fourth grade disaster preparedness curriculum created by Cal OES in partnership with the California Department of Education, CalRecycle, and the Sacramento County Office of Education. The Preparedness Ambassadors curriculum is designed to engage fourth grade students to develop and promote disaster preparedness guidelines for their homes, school, and local community.
  • Be Aware, Be PreparedThis fourth-grade unit of study was created by the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education. In this unit students build knowledge about the geological systems of the Earth, natural disasters, and disaster preparation through print and technology sources and collaborative research.
  • Get Ready 5th Grade Bay Area (GR5):This program was developed by Marin County and modified for implementation by counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. The GR5 was designed to foster family emergency preparedness through the efforts of children within a household.
  • FEMA’s Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) Program:This program is designed to teach students how to prepare for emergencies and disaster and to train them to become leaders in family preparedness.
  • Redwood Coast Tsunami Workgroup:The RCTWG was created to mitigate North Coast earthquakes and tsunami hazards while promoting a coordinated, consistent mitigation program for all coastal areas. It develops educational materials for distribution to children, families, and community members.