NEWS // January 2, 2018

Be Aware, Be Prepared: Shaping the County’s Resilient Next Generation

Candace Hadley, Public Outreach Specialist, County of San Diego Office of Emergency Services

It’s a crisp and cool morning in San Diego County, the school bell rings, your child heads into their first day of class: do you know what they’ll be learning today?

The County of San Diego Office of Emergency Services (OES) and San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) want to make sure that every parent and school-age child in the region learns how to be aware and prepared for emergencies they may face both in and out of the classroom with the Be Aware, Be Prepared disaster preparedness curriculum.

A study led by Oregon State University in 2010 found that 14% of children and teens between the ages of 2-17 had experienced a natural disaster in their lifetime. Of those who had experienced a natural disaster, roughly a quarter reported that they had experienced more than one. Unprecedented wildfires, storms, mudslides and other devastating natural disasters in the state, nation and abroad in the past year have further reinforced the importance of teaching children how to prepare, cope and be resilient in the face of disasters.

The Be Aware, Be Prepared curriculum, developed by OES in partnership with SDCOE, accomplishes this by giving fourth and fifth grade educators the tools they need to deepen their students’ knowledge on the geological systems of the earth, how and why natural disasters occur, and how they can prepare for disasters. The curriculum is Common Core-compliant and aligns with Next Generation Science Standards, utilizing collaborative research and technology. Students get a manual to aid in their disaster research and gain access to a unique cloud-based dashboard tool, called Symbaloo. This site houses bookmarked webpages and resources that also assist students in their research efforts.

“The Be Aware, Be Prepared curriculum empowers the next generation to be knowledgeable and prepared for disasters they may face in their lifetime,” explains Holly Crawford, Director for the County of San Diego Office of Emergency Services. "Students take the concepts they’ve learned home with them, sparking meaningful conversations with their parents, families and neighbors about preparedness.”

The education and knowledge the curriculum promotes is directly in support of the overarching Live Well San Diego vision to create safe and thriving communities. Since its launch in 2015, over 215 teachers have ordered the curriculum and more than 13,700 young minds have reaped its benefits.

“By preparing our children today, we foster a culture of prepared and resilient adults” Crawford explains. “I encourage all school districts and fourth and fifth grade educators throughout San Diego County to consider this practical and invaluable unit of study for their classrooms this school year to help us build a more resilient San Diego.”

Teachers anywhere within the county can electronically download or order hardcopies of the teacher and student manuals and have them shipped directly to your classroom at no cost here:

For more information on the Be Aware, Be Prepared disaster preparedness curriculum, visit or email OES Emergency Services Coordinator and Curriculum Lead, Jessica Williams, at