A new backpack — check. Back-to-school night — already on the calendar. Minnesota parents are ready to start the new school year off right. And while it may not be on their to-do list, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) is making sure parents don’t forget to do a back-to-school safety check before the first bell rings.
DPS knows preparation is a key element to succeeding in school — and the same can be said when it comes to safety. This week, DPS is sharing important back-to-school tips to help Minnesota families, whether they have kids in kindergarten or college, prepare for all types of emergencies and get straight As in safety.
Monday, Aug. 28
Tuesday, Aug. 29
Wednesday, Aug. 30
Thursday, Aug. 31
See something, say something!
Emergency Communication Networks (ECN)
See It Say It Send it app
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA)
Friday, Sept. 1
Members of the media wishing to schedule an interview with a DPS subject matter expert on these daily topics should contact the public information officer assigned to the specific division.
Contact information can be found online.
All-hands with all-hazards: Teaching kids how to prepare for the worst
Summertime is often seen as a break for students, but not for 16-year-old Hallie Best. She spent the summer tackling tough subjects and learning how to help some of the most vulnerable people in her community prepare for some of the most dangerous hazards.
“I just think it’s so much more beneficial for the kids to know what the weather is like outside and not just wait for their mom or dad to say, ‘Oh, we have to go downstairs, there’s a tornado.’ Well, it’s a tornado! Now they’ll know what it is and how they can prepare themselves too,” she said.
And now that school is back in session, she’s ready to continue her work to improve her community’s resiliency.
“Just this past year, I made a program kind of like CloudSpotters and I helped the kids through it,” Hallie said. “I accompanied my local emergency management and we went to the elementary school. I got a portion of their time to talk about severe weather.”
Hallie honed these skills thanks to her role on FEMA’s
Youth Preparedness Council, which brings together youth leaders interested in supporting disaster preparedness and making a difference in their communities by completing disaster preparedness projects nationally and locally.
“Since I was little, we’ve always had our safe spots and our go-to routines that we practice. But now that I’m in it and am able to experience it firsthand, it’s definitely like, ‘Oh yeah, I know what that cloud means. Let’s go inside,'” Best said.
Best may have learned skills through the program, but her passion is home grown — and that’s exactly where preparedness should start.
“Giving children the knowledge on how to respond to an emergency can lower their anxiety and increase their confidence, which can lead to safer outcomes for everyone,” said Minnesota Department of Public Safety Homeland Security and Emergency Management division’s Director Kristi Rollwagen. “A crisis is not the time to start sharing your emergency plan with your family. What happens if they’re home from school and you’re still at work when weather event starts to unfold? That’s why it’s crucial to spend time going over preparedness plans with your kids now, before they go back to school.”
Everyone, regardless of their age, can help prepare for an emergency. Talking through emergency preparations with family members ahead of time not only ensures that children know what to do, but even just knowing there is a plan can reassure them long before the situation unfolds.
Rollwagen suggests starting off with small activities, such as assembling an emergency preparedness kit together or working together to find the safest rooms in the family’s home.
If you would like to interview HSEM Director Kristi Rollwagen or Hallie Best, contact Veronica Marshall at
For weather safety and emergency preparedness resources for kids and educators, visit:
For additional age-appropriate preparedness tools, visit:
Follow DPS web and
social media channels for back-to-school safety tips from each division every day this week.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Members of the media wishing to schedule an interview with a DPS subject matter expert on these daily topics should contact the public information officer assigned to the specific division.
Contact information can be found online.