It’s 9:30 in the morning and 30 kids are screaming at the top of their lungs.
“Be prepared! Have a plan! Have a kit!” they shriek in the gymnasium at Macaulay elementary.
This is the first-ever emergency preparedness rally being delivered to students in Esquimalt and the enthusiasm level is ear-splitting.
With the help of Esquimalt firefighters, the Grade 4 students competed in two rally races that see them scramble to find the kinds of items they should pack in their emergency kits. They shout answers to questions from Red Cross volunteer Renata Hindle about what an earthquake looks like and what preparedness means.
Then, the children sit down with Esquimalt’s emergency program manager Maegan Thompson and look at the contents of the grab-and-go emergency kits they’ll go home with.
“They take this information home and their enthusiasm home,” she said. “This is a way for us to get into the homes of residents. It’s so important for residents to be prepared.”
Many emergency preparedness co-ordinators are concerned that most families don’t have a kit in their homes. But getting kids excited about preparedness could translate into parents taking interest in building a kit, Thompson said.
Macaulay principal Scott Thomas recalled being the one who got his parents interested in wearing seatbelts as a child. Educating children – on such things as recycling and emergency prep – is a way to encourage families to adopt changes, he said.
After Thursday’s activities at Macaulay, friends Grace Martin, Georgia Brown and Katie Costas agree they will go home that afternoon and make kits with their parents.
Esquimalt’s emergency program also visited Victor Brodeur students on Monday.