Student Tools for
Emergency Planning (STEP) aims at preparing families for
multiple hazards by educating and energizing students in school who go home and
act as leaders in implementing key preparedness strategies with their families.
Although there are many
successful, comprehensive safety curricula in the US, STEP is different because
it was designed by teachers, with the challenges and obstacles facing schools in
mind. Learn how it all began.
Over 500 instructors, including
classroom teachers, health teachers, physical education instructors, CERT
volunteers, and local emergency responders, instructed STEP over the last two
years. Instructors, principals, and superintendents noted the following reasons
for adding STEP to their school year.
· STEP provides potentially lifesaving skills to
students and families.
· STEP is offered at zero cost to
· STEP requires only 1 hour of instructional time
during the school year.
· STEP supplies up to 15 hours of optional materials
that can cover a variety of subject areas and align with national
and state standards.
· STEP provides teachers with all the instructional
materials needed, including copies of student handouts, instructional booklets,
· In most cases, STEP provides all students with
“starter” kits: yellow backpacks with basic emergency supply items. Flashlight
with battery, Mylar blanket, Emergency whistle and Yellow Backpack for
· STEP’s ready-to-teach format requires very little
teacher prep time.
State and National
Standards In the Development of the STEP program, teachers and FEMA
staff with previous teaching experience made a cross section of common content
standards between all New England states as well as national standards for
5th grade. STEP lessons were designed to cover various
standards with malleability to fit into various different subject areas,
· Social Studies
· Language Arts
Teachers have found that their original concerns when
approaching disaster education with their students were
- Will my students be too
afraid to hear about disasters?
30,000 students have gone through the program throughout 8
states and 2 years with no issues of students being overly anxious after going
through the program. In fact, teachers found that students were already hearing
about disasters (on the news etc) and had anxieties that weren’t addressed.
Having the opportunity to learn and discuss disasters in a safe and
structured environment actually decreases children’s stress and
- Will I have the time to
do this curriculum?
Most STEP schools have classroom teachers, health
teachers, or physical education teacher instruct STEP lessons because the 1 hour
classroom requirement is manageable. Many teachers have found that because the
students respond so well to STEP and the materials fit so well with their
required curricula, they find more time to dedicate throughout the school
If you are still concerned, there is also the opportunity for an
outside instructor to give the faculty a break and teach these lessons. The
benefit is that an instructor with emergency response or management background
has personal knowledge to offer students in addition to the lessons. Please
Robert.Scata@ct.gov for more information.
- Will the emergency kit
be affordable for my students?
Most emergency supply items already exist in your students
homes. Gathering these items into one place is a big step to becoming prepared
for emergencies! Instructors are also encouraged to explain that every family is
different and will have different sized kits with different types of items.
There is no need for each family to get every item on the list in the kits.
Finally, we have been pleased with how creative teachers and students can be in
finding ways to acquire items for their emergency kits. Teachers have partnered
with PTO’s to solicit local businesses to donate items. Students themselves have
presented to local business leaders to ask for assistance.
Why is this
- The goal of arming students and their families with an
emergency kit and a communications plan is important and can save
- The learning goals result in strategies that prepare
students and their families for large scale disasters (hurricanes, blizzards,
floods) as well as small emergencies (house fires, electricity going out,
- Students can be agents of action in tough situations-
helping adults deal with a situation as opposed to being afraid. If students
have the knowledge to take some control in emergency situations, it can
significantly decrease anxiety levels.
New Curriculum for 4th and 5th
Grade Students - SIG October 2015
STEP - Disaster
Check out this video on YouTube: