STEP: Student Tools for Emergency Planning Information
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 5,000 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 schools.
· 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, and DVD’s.
· 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 items.
· 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, including:
· Social Studies
· Language Arts
Teachers have found that their original concerns when approaching disaster education with their students were unfounded:
- 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 anxiety.
- 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 year.
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 contact 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 important?
- The goal of arming students and their families with an emergency kit and a communications plan is important and can save lives.
- 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, etc)
- 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.
STEP Main Link: http://www.riema.ri.gov/step/connecticut.html
Online STEP Request materials Form: http://www.riema.ri.gov/step/request_materials_form.html
Check out this video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6A9qk1Dhqk&feature=youtube_gdata_player