Students prepare for emergencies through Homeland Security program

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - In 2003, the "Ready Campaign" was started by the Department of Homeland Security to educate and empower the American people to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

A program within "," the "S.T.E.P." program, is designed to teach kids to be able to handle emergency situations, and students from North Star Academy in Marquette got a chance to learn how they can prepare.

The STEP lesson, or student tools for emergency preparedness, was presented by the Michigan State Police.

It showed the 4th and 5th grade students several things including what disasters can happen in their area. It also taught them what they should have in a readily available bag they are able to grab as they run out the door in case of an emergency.

"So the fifth-graders get the opportunity to get a bag from the State of Michigan along with F.E.M.A., provide a bag along with three items that are in the bag to get them started on emergency preparedness," Michigan State Police Trooper Stacey Rasanen said.

The students were asked to get their parents to teach them phone numbers of where they can be reached, to discuss a safe place they can meet outside their homes, and to assemble items they would need to survive if they had to leave their homes in an emergency.

"We want them to know that they can prepare, they're all preparers, they prepare for birthday parties, they prepare for summer vacations, so they do prepare," Marquette County Emergency Management Coordinator Teresa Schwalbach said.

The presenters said in discussing what could happen, and practicing how to respond in an emergency, the students should be less likely to panic.

"Because things do happen in our area and you know they're less likely to get upset about it because they're like, 'Oh we talked about it and we can do these things to keep ourselves warm if power goes out,'" Rasanen said.

On top of learning how to plan for a disaster, the teachers hope the students learn how to handle themselves in a more practical environment.

"I'm just hoping they get out how to be safe, how for them to be safe, because if you look at in the next couple years some of these children may actually become babysitters, so not only take care of themselves, know what to do in case an adult is not there," North Star Academy 4th/5th grade teacher David Neumann said.

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