How to prep for (and recover from) natural disasters

Teaching youth to prepare for emergencies

When a magnitude-5.8 earthquake shook Donald “Diesel” Embrey’s hometown in 2011, the Virginia high school student sprang into action. Since Embrey was a member of the volunteer fire department, he helped set up a triage center and emergency shelter at the fire station.

Few teens would be as well prepared to handle a crisis, but young people should be encouraged to get involved in emergency preparedness activities at an early age. Since children make up about one quarter of the population of the United States, planning for emergencies should take into account their unique needs….


How to prep for (and recover from) natural disasters

A resident inspects neighborhood damage after Hurricane Dorian hit the area, on September 6, 2019 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. (Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The hurricane’s 185 mph winds and rampant flooding devastated the Bahamas, left scores dead, and more than 70,000 without food or shelter. We’ll likely see more tropical storms and hurricanes this fall, and future storms may rival Dorian’s strength, researchers say.

And while it may not be possible to link any single hurricane directly to climate change, research does indicate that warmer ocean and air temperatures are making storms more intense and destructive.

Unfortunately, public concern does not always correspond with these new realities, researchers say. “More than half of all Americans do not prepare for disasters,” says Robyn Gershon, a clinical professor of epidemiology at the New York University College of Global Public Health.

Gershon studies what helps and hinders preparedness—for instance, how nurses fared working in challenging conditions during Hurricane Sandy. Her work—which includes more than a dozen large-scale studies of disasters—has informed policy and practice. Her World Trade Center Evacuation Study, for example, helped lead to the first changes in New York City’s high-rise fire safety codes in more than 30 years…

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