A proposal for a home economics component of a natural disaster programme

1. Rationale:

Disaster preparedness and response issues have been given attention by National Emergency Agencies in Caribbean Countries. Yet the 1993 theme for the ‘International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction’ which was celebrated on the 13th October 1993 was “Stop Disasters!”. Focus on Schools and Hospitals” with the recommendation that the theme should be on going with all rights and privileges for the rest of the decade.

The call for a focus on schools can be answered by the involvement of the education sector in the dissemination of information on natural disaster awareness. Since one of the basic needs of the family is the safety of its members and since the Home Management Syllabus in the Home Economics subject area at the CXC level deals with hazards in the home environment and workplace; the teacher of Home Economics can play a pivotal role in a school based natural disaster plan.

2. The existing home-economics programme:

There exists in the CXC Home Management Syllabus an objective which states that students will be able to demonstrate an awareness of safety in the home environs and workplace; safety devices and first aid. Natural disaster awareness is not included presently in the content. There needs to be an inclusion of natural disaster awareness given the prevalence of these occurrences in our region. Therefore this project is being proposed in the area of curriculum development.

3. Name of project: a family natural disaster awareness plan (f.a.n.d.a.p.)

4. Description of the project:

This project will develop curriculum to disseminate information on:

  1. Disaster drills, simulation exercises, non-structural surveys and evacuation plans for home and school.
  2. The protection of non-structured elements of the home and school.
  3. Keeping disaster supply kits, first aid kits and other basic needs in preparation for a natural disaster.
  4. The essential steps to take prior to, during and after a natural disaster.

The emphasis of this model can be adapted based on regional past experiences to susceptibility to risks from particular types of natural disaster e.g. earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions.

The content material can be so structured as to span any level of the primary and secondary school system.

5. Philosophy:

Home Economics is concerned with integration of knowledge from various disciplines to help individuals and families improve the quality of their lives. A family natural disaster awareness plan fits within the framework of giving the kind of assistance that will make family life better. It is envisioned that this work can be done by teachers of Home Economics. The thrust of the work will be interdisciplinary in scope and the issues of natural disaster safety and survival will be addressed.

6. Problems identified

  1. There is no disaster awareness education programme in schools presently to prepare students for a natural disaster.
  2. Natural disaster events can be frightening for adults and traumatic for children in times of emergency.
  3. Identification of inappropriate behaviours in preparation for a natural disaster.

7. Course of action:

  1. Development of disaster drills.
  2. Development of simulation exercises.
  3. Development of evaluation drills.
  4. Assembly of disaster supply kits and first aid kits.
  5. Protection of non-structural hazards at home and school.

8. Programme Objectives:

  1. To create disaster awareness in order to alleviate fears and trauma experienced by students and adults during a natural disaster.
  2. To disseminate information on disaster preparedness.
  3. To reduce the effects of natural disasters in the Caribbean Community through the education sector.
  4. To help students develop coping skills in preparation for during a natural disaster.

9. Types of activity:

Activities will be initiated to deal with the objectives given e.g.

  1. Training of personnel. (TEACHER TRAINING)
  2. Workshops
  3.  Preparation of Instructional materials. (CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT)
  4. Role Playing.
  5. Simulations Exercises.
  6. Drills]
  7. Introduction of “A family natural disaster awareness plan’ on the school curriculum.

The programme will make use of assessment procedures that will include:

  1. Observation of student’s interaction e.g. willingness to participate.
  2. Spontaneous performance e.g. evacuation drills etc.
  3. Paper and pencil tests e.g. checklists.
  4. Self assessment strategies.
  5. Quantitative analysis of parent’s involvement.

10. Appendices

  • SAMPLE Letter to parents with an enclosed information brochure.
  • Simulation Exercises
    1. disaster supplies
    2. first aid supplies
    3. Non-structural hazards
  • Evacuation drills
  • An example of a disaster supply kit (OAS) (PAHO)
  • An example of a first aid kit (OAS) (PAHO)