Disasters, whether natural or human-caused, are often unpredictable and can happen at any time and to anyone. Disasters are defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as an occurrence that has resulted in property damage, deaths, and/or injuries to a community, and may include floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, fires, illnesses, chemical or radiation emergencies, and terrorist or bioterrorist attacks, among others.
It's critical to ensure children and families know what to do in an emergency and that the unique needs and assets of youth are included in disaster preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery efforts. While many individuals report that they are aware of disasters and their potential effects, fewer report that they have undertaken steps to plan for or prepare for disasters.
Prevention and preparedness refer to the planning and actions that occur prior to a disaster. This may include preparing for public health threats, developing an emergency response plan, creating an emergency preparedness kit, or taking steps to address things that may cause a disaster.
Response and recovery refer to actions that occur during and after disasters or emergencies. Responses to emergencies may include sheltering in place or evacuating, and recovery may include repairing damaged infrastructure, reuniting families, replacing supplies, addressing emotional responses and revising response plans.
Youth-serving agencies can play an important role educating youth about disasters and teaching them coping mechanisms. Involving them in prevention, preparedness, recovery, and response efforts can help to ensure that youth, families, and communities are prepared and able to respond when faced with disasters.