Monday, August 25, 2014

Comic Book Aims to Help People Prepare for Emergencies

One of the challenges of preparing a community to be ready if an emergency strikes is educating them in advance with safety tips.  Unfortunately that is often easier said than done as the format many educational tips are provided in often doesn't connect with its audience.  Understanding that posters, film shorts, and pamphlets weren't getting the job done in educating kids about how to handle themselves if confronted with an earthquake or tsunami the Oregon Office of Emergency Management partnered with Dark Horse Comics to create Without Warning a 12 page comic book that tells the story of a high school student caught in an earthquake and illustrates how she gets back home safely by following her family's prearranged safety plan.

Without Warning written by Jeremy Barlow and Althea Rizzo with artwork by David Hahn incorporates safety tips into their story so readers are learning through their inclusion within the story rather than just having information thrown at them to be memorized.  It is hoped that by presenting realistic situations to readers they will have a greater comprehension of why these tips are important to follow in an emergency and will be more likely to retain that knowledge for future use if they encounter dangerous situations themselves.  Rizzo, who is the Geologic Hazards Coordinator for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, hopes this comic book will help with educating kids.  "Most public education programs are not interesting to kids," she said in an interview with the online publication Comics Alliance. "This comic book allows us to reach a new audience not often targeted in existing preparedness materials."

Oregon residents can pickup FREE print copies of Without Warning through the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.  People can also download a digital version of the comic book from Dark Horse Comic's web site by CLICKING HERE.

There is some nice artwork in this comic book that shows Hahn devoted a great deal of time and effort into trying to make this project stand out.  The story also provides some decent tips with realistic scenarios.  The only negative about the publication is that it portrays the high school student Angie as an overachiever ready to go when an earthquake and tsunami strike her coastal town.  A high school student having a backpack with her filled with emergency supplies, including a rope used to lasso someone from a car trapped in a flooded road,  takes away from the realistic tone the authors are trying to set and seems awkward against the the comic's title Without Warning.  The comic book probably would be more influential if it portrayed a normal student who wasn't prepared in advance but used her family's emergency plan and remembered safety tips to get through the situation.  Despite that criticism it is applaudable to see some out-of-the-box thinking to help people get ready for dangerous situations.  We recently had flash floods in our community during the evening commute home that left Metro Detroit highways looking more like rivers for a few days putting thousands of people in peril in the blink of an eye.  Hurricanes in the South, Blizzards and Tornadoes in the Midwest.  Earthquakes and Tsunamis on the West Coast.  You never know what twist weather may throw your way so it is so important for people to be prepared.  So kudos to the Dark Horse Comics and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management for being creative in trying to help people understand the importance of being prepared through providing this #FREE comic book.  No matter where you live, I'd suggest you take a look at Without Warning because it is a nice teaching aid for an important topic.

#comicbooks #earthquake #safety


  1. That is a very interesting way to talk about disasters and preparing people for them, however, I bet it is a very effective way for kids!

  2. I agree it probably would have been better had the student not had a backpack of supplies ready, but my kids love comics and would probably read this. I'm sure they could better relate if we lived in an earthquake area.

  3. I agree with Shawn, very interesting approach and with the earthquake that just happened in California, it would be a great way to talk to kids about events like this.

  4. Very interesting concept and a good way to help teach kids because we all know that words can be boring but pictures keep their attention.