Find ideas and resources for teaching students about preparedness.

Responding to scenarios

Using scenarios works well with older students, who are more able to separate fact from fiction and apply a fictitious scenario to action in real life. A range of scenarios are presented below.

How could you use these scenarios? 

  • Discuss each one in a group. 
  • Make a plan or flowchart to show how you could help someone in your neighbourhood before an emergency strikes or during an emergency. 
  • Mime or act them out in a group. 
  • Use them as topics for impromptu speeches.
  • Write your own ‘What if?’ situations. 
  • Make a game such as Snakes and Ladders.
  • Create digital comics or voicethread presentations.
  • Use them as a way to creatively share a preparedness message with ESOL students, students with special requirements or junior students in the school.
  • Use them as a writing prompt. Present a scenario to the class and ask students what they would do. Use the material on QuakeStories, a forum where Survivors of the Christchurch earthquakes tell their stories in their own words, as an exemplar. They could then write their own fictional accounts, or accounts of their own emergencies that have happened to them no matter how big or small.

These scenarios can be useful for short, teachable moments after a drill or practice. Discuss with students what they would do in some of these scenarios if they occurred at lunchtime or during breaks, or if the teacher isn’t at school and there is a reliever. Create a Safety Action Plan with the class for your class’s needs. 

  • What if:

    • You are sitting at your desk at school when the room begins to shake violently. Windows smash and the computer monitor crashes to the floor. 
    • You are playing outside when the ground starts to shake. Younger children around you start screaming. 
    • The school is closing early due to bad weather and a fast rising river close by. You know your parent or caregiver who usually picks you up is still at work. 
    • You are outside when the wind suddenly strengthens and objects begin to get blown about.
    • You are in the classroom during bad weather. The wind is getting really strong, and suddenly a window shatters. 
  • What if:

    • Violent shaking has brought down the chimney in your house, creating a hole in the roof.   
    • The river beside your house has broken its banks in a storm and the water level is rising. 
    • You are listening to the radio when the song is interrupted by a Civil Defence siren alert noise followed by a special message. A cyclone warning is given. The cyclone is heading in your direction. 
    • Your family are all asleep in bed when you are suddenly woken up by the noise of furniture falling over and pictures falling off the walls.
    • It has been raining heavily all night and all day — a flood warning has been issued for your area.
    • Due to an earthquake, water pipes have burst in your house. Your parents are not at home and the lounge is starting to flood.
    • It is evening and it is dark outside. The power has just gone off. You have no lights, phone or internet.
    • The bank at the back of your house has started to slip down towards a bedroom where your little brother is sleeping.
  • What if:

    • While walking to school one morning, the ground begins to shake violently.
    • After a major storm, you notice a broken power line across the footpath.
    • A tsunami warning has been given. You have been advised by radio to evacuate the area. Your parents are not at home.
    • You are walking home from school after some very heavy rain. A very deep puddle of water blocks your way.
    • You meet a friend after school in the park. You notice the sky getting dark and see bolts of lightning. Heavy rain begins to fall. Loud claps of thunder echo all around.
    • You are at the supermarket when suddenly the ground begins to shake and items start falling from the shelves.
  • What if:

    • While holidaying at the beach you feel a strong earthquake. You notice the sea suddenly dropping back from the shore.
    • To get from your camping spot to the beach, you have to cross a small river. After heavy rain, the river has risen significantly.
    • While on holiday, warnings are given over the radio that a nearby volcano is erupting.
    • You are on holiday with your family on a boat. The weather turns nasty and you are now being washed towards the rocky shore.
    • You are in a hotel when there is a sudden low rumbling sound and the floor begins to shake.
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On QuakeStories, survivors of the Christchurch earthquakes tell their stories.

Impacts and superheroes

Have a look at the seven impacts of emergency events by looking at the I.M.P.A.C.T.S Team.

Assign one impact and its associated superhero to individuals, pairs or small groups of students. Ask them to complete the following activities.

  • Discuss, collect or design the objects you think you might need to prepare for your emergency to lessen the impact. Design a container suitable for your preparedness items so that you can carry everything if you need to leave home.
  • Ask for help from the school community to translate your ideas for preparing for emergencies into a community language other than English — to be put into the school newsletter or other regular communications.
  • Make emergency plans for the ways you would prepare for an emergency, and deal with your impact at home, at school or out in the community. Take into account what resources you would have, who you might be with and what you could do now to mitigate future impacts. Share your plans on a class blog or send an email home.
  • Explore ways to help community members with special requirements or the elderly to prepare for or cope with the impact of an emergency event. How might the I.M.P.A.C.T.S superheroes look after them?
  • Explore ways to help pets or other animals to prepare for and cope with the impact of an emergency. 
  • Design a way to present the impacts to a younger class, your whānau or a community group. Create a prototype and get feedback on it from other class members, before making necessary adjustments and delivering/presenting it to your audience. Students may be inspired by this emergency preparedness display in Lego.
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Watch this video of kids using LEGO to demonstrate their ideas on emergency preparedness.

School emergency response procedures and plans

In groups of four to six, review the school’s emergency evacuation plans and emergency response procedures. If the school has various plans, give different plans to each group. Discuss the plans within each group to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency.

Divide the groups in half — each group teaches another group what to do. Keep swapping groups until everyone has been through all the emergency response procedures. If the school has only one or two plans, go through these as a class.  

Are these school procedures and plans effective and clear for everyone? 

  • What other plans might we need? 
  • Can the information be communicated more clearly or in a different way?
  • How do we make students and families aware of these plans and procedures? 
  • How often do we practise these plans? Is it often enough or too often? 
  • How can we improve the effectiveness of our plans? 

Brainstorm a list of ways to improve the school plans and procedures. Ideas might include the following.

  • Sharing information with classes or families or at assembly. 
  • Drafting other emergency plans to present to the principal or Board of Trustees.
  • Writing emergency preparedness messages for the school newsletter.
  • Making a suggested timetable or checklist for the school or teacher to help check that drills have been completed
  • Including images/photographs with written plans and procedures to visually communicate key messages.
  • Creating a school emergency procedure video similar to the Air New Zealand safety videos.

Emergency planning at government, community and family levels

Ask students what actions can be taken to prepare for emergency impacts. Create a chart or poster with information about actions at the three levels.

  • At a government level
    • Investigate the role and activities of the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) and the Earthquake Commission (EQC) — including what might happen if we didn’t have these organisations (compare with other countries e.g. Japan, Haiti)
    • Investigate other ways government helps ensure we are ready for emergencies — e.g. building standards, land-use planning
  • At a community level
    • Investigate the role in an emergency of the fire service, paramedics and police, and disaster relief agencies like Red Cross
  • At a family and individual level
    • Investigate ways groups and individuals can be proactive, rather than reactive, in their preparation
    • Visit What’s The Plan Stan?

 Suggestions for discussion and debate.

  • Should kids need to be prepared for an emergency?
  • Why do we need to prepare at all? This is never going to happen!
  • Can kids help in times of an emergency event?

Home learning

Students can create a home emergency plan with their families. Students could share their plans of how to deal with all seven impacts with the class. 

Make a Plan.

Students can visit EQC Fix. Fasten. Don’t Forget. and list the ways they can quake safe their home. They can then talk with their parents about what action they have taken so far, and what further action they can take. The PDF Easy Ways To Quake Safe Your Home  provides more information.

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Visit EQC’s Fix. Fasten. Don't Forget. for more information on making your home safer.

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EQC has resources that will help you better prepare for natural disasters, and to recover afterwards.