National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
The People of Weather-Ready Nation: Sarah Thompson, Save the Children

NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation initiative is about building community resilience in the face of increasingvulnerability to extreme weather and water events.

In People of Weather-Ready Nation, we sit down with some of the people responsible for building a Weather-Ready Nation. We recently talked to Sarah Thompson, Associate Director of Community Preparedness for Save the Children’s U.S. Programs.

1. What does a Weather-Ready Nation mean to you?

A Weather-Ready Nation is a nation that is prepared to protect the most vulnerable - our children -from severe weather and disasters. It’s a nation where communities and governments make children a priority in disaster protocol, caregivers are equipped with skills to keep kids safe, all families create emergency plans, and children learn how to effectively prepare and respond to multi-hazard weather events. While we cannot prevent disasters from happening, there are simple things we can do to help families be ready and protect children. That’s what Save the Children strives for - securing the future we share.

2. How are you helping to build a Weather-Ready Nation?

With nearly 100 years of emergency response experience, Save the Children is the national leader in protecting children before, during and after disasters. Since Hurricane Katrina, we have served more than one million children affected by U.S. emergencies. Through Save the Children’s Get Ready Get Safe initiative we provide families and caregivers with key resources like checklists and tips sheets. We train child care providers in how to create emergency plans for their programs and responders how to care for and help children recover in shelters. And through our Prep Rally program we teach children grades K-5 the basics of disaster preparedness through engaging activities and games.

3. What is the biggest challenge you see in making the nation ready, responsive, and resilient to extreme events?

One gap that we’ve recognized is family emergency communication plan with caregivers and programs. After Hurricane Katrina, 5,000 cases of missing children were reported and it took weeks and even months to reunite many of these children with their parents. But even separation for a matter of hours during smaller emergencies can leave children extremely vulnerable. Save the Children is encouraging all families to create emergency contact cards that their children can have with them wherever they are. The online tool makes it easy to create and print out cards at home:


Sarah Thompson is the Associate Director of Community Preparedness for Save the Children’s U.S. Programs, where she focuses on helping families and communities prepare for emergencies and leads the Get Ready Get Safe initiative.