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Disaster Guide (NEW)


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Using This Guide
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Using This Guide

To use this guide, you should first get to know your intended audience. Consider the ages and socioeconomic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds of the audience members. Be sensitive: audience members who are struggling to provide food for their families may be unable to purchase supplies and foreign-born audience members who learned safety actions in their native countries may be wary of information that contradicts what they were previously told. Also, remember that persons with disabilities may have difficulty hearing, seeing, or understanding warnings and other critical messages. Announcements should be concise, clear, and calm. Open captions of verbal information should be used in emergency telecasts, and scrolling should not be allowed to block captions. Television announcers should provide clear, verbal descriptions of events for persons who are blind or have low vision. It is also important to consider your area's specific hazards and disaster history. The East Coast will not prepare for volcanic eruptions, and the West Coast will not prepare for hurricanes.

When you deliver “what to do” action messages, word them in a positive manner that helps those hearing or reading the message know how to act. For example, in fire education, instead of saying, "Do not panic," you might say, "Remain calm. Get out as quickly and safely as possible.” This allows those hearing or reading the message to focus on what they can and should do in case of fire. For this message, you might next offer submessages on what "safely" means (crawl low under smoke to your exit; feel the doorknob and the space around the door with the back of your hand before opening the door; etc.).

In addition, you can use awareness messages to reinforce the importance of knowing what to do. Awareness messages help people realize that disasters do happen in their communities and that they can take steps to prepare for disaster and lessen its effects.

Everyone has seen the horrific results of disasters on the evening news, but viewers often do not perceive them as real or as local. In fact, seeing too much disaster news often causes people to “tune it out,” because they feel there is nothing they can do to protect themselves or their property. For some people, testimonials from local residents about their personal experiences with disaster can bring the reality of disaster closer to home; for others, hearing statistics on area disasters can be a wake-up call.

If you are preparing a presentation, news release, or article about a particular type of disaster, consider selecting three to seven messages from the relevant chapter. Feature your chosen messages and add to them with submessages and supporting information from the guide.

If time or space is limited, evaluate your audience and the chosen topic to determine the most important messages. For disasters with little or no warning, what to do during the disaster is generally most important. For disasters with plenty of warning time, preparation may be most important.

Whatever your message, physical props will help you provide the greatest learning experience. Try to use, for example, photos or drawings for print materials, soundtracks for radio presentations, videos for television, and aids like videos, posters, Disaster Supplies Kit items, and mock-ups to make presentations interactive. Keep in mind that your audience will include persons with disabilities who may have difficulty seeing, hearing, or understanding your messages.

If you would like further information, brochures, or materials about disaster safety or information about developing community disaster education presentations, you may contact any of the National Disaster Education Coalition member agencies or their local counterparts. Keep in mind that the local affiliates of these national agencies may have additional resources and information specific to your audience.

Remember, the five actions for emergency preparedness that everyone can take are:

  1. Make a plan.
  2. Build a kit.
  3. Get trained.
  4. Volunteer.
  5. Give blood.
The National Disaster Education Coalition
This page was updated: 9/21/04 Sponsored by HomelandPLANS.com Site by eScapes