California OES on Empowering Children in Disaster Preparedness – Youth Programs

August 30, 2021 – Children play a vital role in our community as leaders of tomorrow, but are often the most vulnerable during a disaster. It is important to ensure their protection by providing them with the knowledge necessary to identify and react to a given situation. As the state’s emergency response leader, Cal OES has compiled a list of youth preparedness programs designed to empower children to become proactive, disaster-ready leaders in their communities.

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


Kindergarten to 12th grade

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

4th-5th grade

  • Cal OES Preparation Ambassador Program– A statewide fourth-grade disaster preparedness program created by Cal OES in partnership with the California Department of Education, CalRecycle, and the Sacramento County Office of Education. The Preparedness Ambassadors program is designed to inspire fourth-grade students to develop and promote disaster preparedness guidelines for their homes, schools, and local communities.
  • Be Aware, Be Prepared: This fourth-grade study unit 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 learn about Earth’s geological systems, natural disasters, and disaster preparedness through print and technology sources and collaborative research.
  • Prepare for Grade 5 Bay Area (GR5):This program was developed by Marin County and modified for implementation by San Francisco Bay Area counties. The GR5 was designed to help families prepare for emergencies 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 disasters and to train them to be leaders in preparing families.
  • Redwood Coast Tsunami Task Force:The RCTWG was created to mitigate the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis on the North Coast while promoting a coordinated and coherent mitigation program for all coastal areas. It develops educational materials to distribute to children, families and community members.
    Source: Cal OES