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Introduction to Emergency Preparedness
Learning about Local Hazards

Introduction to Emergency Preparedness

This lesson is to introduce students emergency preparedness and to gain basic vocabulary and information on the topic.






Power line






Things to use:

  1. Computer(s) with Internet access or DVD

  2. City of Seattle Office of Emergency Management home page

  3. Slips of paper for optional Bingo

  4. Family Emergency Plan: document

Lesson Ideas:

  1. As an addendum to your lesson:  Use topics you are already practicing in your ESL class to connect with emergency preparedness activities.  Some ideas are:

    1. Writing name, address, telephone number—Levels 1 and 2 frequently practice this.  Use the Emergency Contact Information module.  Have students fill out cards in English and their language.

    2. Prepositions of place:  When you study prepositions of place, such as “The coffee table is in front of the sofa,” extend the lesson by introducing the Earthquake or Family Plan module.  Have students describe escape routes, where the “safe spots” are during an earthquake or what furniture might fall or break.

    3. Family portrait:  Family pictures are a good thing to have in a supply kit or school backpack.  If a disaster happens and one gets separated from one’s family, a picture is handy to have.  Use the Family Plan or Building a Supply Kit modules.

    4. Shopping:  Buy or price items for a supply kit.  Check prices at the Dollar Store.

    5. Weather:  Discuss hazards and how to prepare for them.  What do we do when it snows or the power goes out?

    6. Food:  Discuss what to put and not to put in a supply kit.

    7. Grammar:  The topic of emergency preparedness is full of grammar:  past and future tenses, modals (should, can, could, might), commands, and conditionals.  For lower levels, “I have,” “I need,” “I am.” Look at the pictures in the PowerPoint for the modules Building a Supply Kit or Learning about Local Hazards as examples for past tense questions.

  2. PowerPoint:  Introduce lesson by showing pictures of an earthquake, a fire, power lines down.  Ask students what they see in the pictures and what happened.  Then ask: “Can this happen in Seattle?”  “Has this ever happened to you?”  “What can you do about it?”  Teacher can share any experiences with such hazards.  Write any emergency vocabulary on the board.

  3. Watch video*: City of Seattle’s “Personal and Family Preparedness” on-line video or call them to get the DVD.

    1. Depending on level, stop frequently and ask/answer questions.  Point out visuals and write down vocabulary like earthquake, supply kit items, actions like “Drop, Cover, Hold.”

    2. When done, ask students what they saw/remember.  How much did they understand:  20%, 50%?  Write vocabulary students mention on the board.

    3. Have students do Cloze Exercise 1 (answers) and Comprehension Question Worksheet 1 (answers). For a complete list of cloze exercises and worksheets, click the On-line Video link.

  4. Read “Why Plan?”  Read page 1 of Family Emergency Preparedness Plan.  Here are comprehension questions students can do. 

  5. Vocabulary

    1. Do Spelling Worksheet.

    2. Do pronunciation practice with words.

    3. Students can write individual flash cards.

    4. Play Bingo:  students make Bingo grid on paper and write one word from board in a box. Teacher writes words on slips of paper.  Randomly draw words and call out.

  6. Writing I:  Look at the PowerPoint pictures.  Have students answer the questions, or simply write what people are doing or what you see.  “There is a …”  “There are 2…”

  7. Writing II:  These are some intermediate or advanced ideas to write about after the video and reading “Why Plan?”

  8. Play Bingo!: A great game already from EL Civics in California set up with game cards. Cards have vocabulary and directions on what to do during a disaster.

  9. Scenario 1Camping: In the video, the man asks us to imagine we are going camping for 3 days.  What do we need? 

  10. Scenario 2—Prepare for...(windstorm):  In the video (13:53), the man asks us to pretend an event will occur in a few days and asks us what we need to do to prepare.  Do this with students.  They can list what they have at home that matches what the video says they need for 3 days.  Then students can go home and make lists:  What I have….What I need.

  11. Scenario 3—After the... (windstorm):  Students discuss what to do after a disaster.

  12. Scenario 4—What to do in an earthquake:  Students learn what to do in various locations during an earthquake.

  13. Scenario 5—What to do in different hazards:  Students pick a disaster scenario and search the Internet to find out what to do.

  14. Scenario 6You're at school and...: Reading and discussing the emergency procedures listed by Seattle Central College's Security Department.


*Notes on video:

  1. Teachers may want to focus more on the visuals than words.  Stop video and point out people, pictures, and items and/or to ask/answer questions.

  2. Lower Level:  You many want to watch the video without the sound off, look at the pictures, stop, and ask questions.

  3. This video can be used in parts instead of as a whole. Go to the On-line Video page and pick a section with cloze and comprehension activities.

  4. Teaching Ideas and Tips: Look here for the outline of the video and some ideas for teachers.