Did you know that some of your tax money (if you are a working US citizen or resident) is being spent on a Federal Emergency Management Agency website for kids? It is truly surreal.
Take, for example, this bit of prose from a short story about a boy named Leonard who has just been frightened by his first earthquake. The action picks up the next night:
That night, in his dreams, Leonard imagined that he was back in that earthquake. But this time he wasn’t as scared because he knew what to do! Three experts from the Institute of Emergency Preparedness had come into the bedroom of his dreams and had taught Leonard what to do whenever there is an earthquake. They were Leonard’s own very special “Earthquake Buddies.”
You can read the whole thing here. I can only imagine the boy’s thrill as three government bureaucrats made themselves at home in the “bedroom of his dreams.”
There’s a lot more, including a suddenly tastless TSUNAMI GAME that isn’t on the games page anymore, but is apparently still working (I got the link from Drudge, and I guess FEMA might delete the page soon).
I guess FEMA wants to educate kids about what to do in case of an emergency. In theory, it sounds great, but in practice, who wants a snotty kid who’s seen a few web pages spouting off like an authority on disaster in the middle of an earthquake. Generally speaking, the best policy is probably for kids to keep their mouths shut and listen to the big people.
There’s always an exception to the rule, of course. The annoying kid in Poseidon Adventure was able to contribute something helpful, but he had the good sense to shut up and let Hackman call the shots.
On the website, there’s also a page that shows kids “what’s happening now.” Actually, it’s an interactive map that shows you what disasters can potentially strike your state. Kids in Nevada, for example, have six things to give them nightmares:
Earthquake, Fire, Flooding, Landslide, Severe Storm, Winter Storm
Florida kids seem to be the winners, as they have no less than nine natural disasters to worry about:
Fire, Flooding, Hurricane, Severe Storm, Thunderstorms, Tornado, Tropical Storm, Wildfire, Winter Storm.
I’m not a meterologist, but wouldn’t thunderstorms verging on the disastrous qualify as “severe storms?” And just how likely is a deadly winter storm in Florida, anyway?
Finally, a page telling kids what they might feel like in a disaster let’s them know that if they are obsessive-compulsive or so rigid that every detail of their lives must be pre-planned, they don’t have too much to worry about:
You can get a new routine if you canï¿½t go home for awhile. You will settle down into a new place and you will meet new friends.
That nice. Education is all well and good, but this stuff seems just plain weird.