The idea behind Collin Houpf’s roughly 20-minute presentation Friday morning at Long County Middle School is simple: get the kids to buy in.
"The idea is that we teach the kids, then hope they go home and talk to mom and dad," said Houpf, who works as school safety coordinator for the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.
The hope is that enough kids will get their parents to think about what they should do in the event of a disaster to eventually change the results of a recent GEMHSA survey, which showed only one in four Georgians is prepared for a disaster.
"That means that three in four aren’t, so the key is to reach out to the other three and try to get them prepared," Houpf said, shortly before taking the stage at the LCMS cafeteria to talk to students.
Long County Middle School’s youngsters were among the first in the state to get Houpf’s presentation, part of a broader GEMAHSA outreach through its Ready Georgia campaign.
So, after discussing what sort of natural and manmade disasters Long County might experience, which ranged from hurricanes to tornadoes to heatwaves and floods, Houpf urged students to stay informed, have an emergency plan and keep on hand a ready kit consisting of enough emergency supplies to last a family three days.
That means having on hand food, water, medicine, first aid kits, batteries, chargers, a NOAA weather radio and more, Houpf said. His list included duct tape, which prompted a student to question why it was needed.
"Because duct tape cures everything," Houpf said. "You can fix anything with duct tape. I fixed a truck with duct tape once."
Students were engaged during Houpf’s presentation, asking questions and offering suggestions for items to have during an emergency. Long County Middle School Principal Heath Crane said he’s always on board when there’s a chance to promote safety.
"If one thing we do today creates a safe situation during a future emergency for our young people, it’ll definitely be worth the 20 to 30 minutes for the safety class," he said, noting the presentation went so well "I think we’ll try to get him to come back."
For more information about GEMSHA’s Ready Georgia campaign, visit www.ready.georgia.gov.