Wildfire Preparedness: Ready or Not?
Quirky characters bounded onto the stage in front of an auditorium full of students. Their goal: getting kids like Henry, a fourth grader at Dixie Canyon Elementary School in Sherman Oaks, excited about wildfire preparedness.
“What I learned from the play is to stay safe and always be prepared because a disaster can happen anytime,” said Henry.
At the “Ready or Not: Preparing for Wildfires” play, sponsored by Edison International and put on by the National Theatre for Children, a team of two actors taught students wildfire safety lessons through an interactive production.
The play uses a fun storyline to familiarize children with the serious topic of wildfire safety, in time for Wildfire Preparedness Week in May.
The leading role dramatizing those lessons is the always prepared Penelope Planner.
In the show, Planner goes to meet her uncle, Dr. Ima Scientist, whose latest creation wants to unleash a disaster on the world by the name of Calamity Dwayne. He threatens to turn into a wildfire and wreak havoc. That ignites an educational journey to defeat him.
To do that, Penelope and her co-star, who bounces between different characters, teach the children four main points during the production. At the end of the show, Mia, a brave volunteer, gets up on stage to help beat Calamity Dwayne by answering some of those questions.
Test your knowledge of wildfire preparedness with these questions:
- What's the difference between a hazard, an emergency and a disaster?
- What is a family communication plan?
- How does a wildfire start?
- Who do you look for in an emergency?
She and Penelope reminded the rest of the students that a hazard is a source of danger that could lead to an emergency or a disaster. Emergencies require first responders while disasters affect an entire community and have the potential for an extended recovery time.
“I am going to go home and tell my family to make a plan and to get an emergency kit with water,” said Mia, a Dixie Canyon Elementary School student. “We need to write down what to do in case of a disaster, like how to find my family.”
In the play’s final showdown, Penelope and the students roar “I’m a fan of making a plan!” the magic words to defeat Calamity Dwayne. As the phrase renders him powerless, the students erupt in cheers.
“The acting was great, the artwork was great, and they were very lively, which keeps the kids engaged,” said Justin Siegel, a fourth-grade teacher.
Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, has sponsored the National Theatre for Children since 2012 for different safety plays, including electrical safety. The grant ensures the valuable lesson plans and supplements for teachers are cost-free.
“The Ready or Not plays have reached thousands of kids and we’re proud of increasing safety consciousness to create additional conversations at home that will reinforce this value in an impactful way,” said Alejandro Esparza, SCE principal manager for Philanthropy and Community Engagement. “Edison believes in the importance of safety, being prepared and the positive impact these messages can have, especially when they’re taught at a young age.”
Students take these messages home to their families and teachers are left with online tools to continue teaching the value of safety.
This year, over 30 schools or Boys and Girls Clubs across SCE’s service area participated in “Ready or Not: Preparing for Wildfires.”
For more information on SCE’s wildfire mitigation efforts, visit edison.com/wildfire-safety.