Pictured l to r: Kathy Renfrow, Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management; Cheryl Sewell, The Arc of Fort Bend
FORT BEND COUNTY, TX – Who would have thought that the popular game of Bingo could be used to make Emergency Preparedness more fun? Jeff Braun, Emergency Manager of Fort Bend County, states, “Of all the programs the Office of Emergency Management offers on Emergency Preparedness, this is the most fun!”
Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management (FBC OEM) unveiled Ready Bingo at the Fort Bend County Coordination Council Meeting on October 23, 2013. Ready Bingo was created to be a fun tool to help educate citizens on Emergency Preparedness. The idea was born as the result of a conversation Kathy Renfrow, Planning Coordinator from the FBC OEM, had with Cheryl Sewell, Director of Youth Programs at The Arc of Fort Bend, a non-profit organization that serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, about outreach ideas that would assist different populations on how to be prepared in the event of an emergency. Cheryl suggested that OEM create a bingo game for emergency preparedness and she offered her assistance to help with the development. Because of Cheryl’s idea, Ready Bingo is now a reality being produced exclusively by Ready Houston for the region.
The Ready Bingo game is picture-driven, depicting 34 different images of emergency preparedness items such as bottled water, flashlights, batteries, mechanical can openers, prescription medication, etc. Each card held up by the leader of the game has an important message in English and in Spanish of the emergency preparation principle being taught. For example, the game leader holds up a large picture of bottled water for all the game players to see. On the back of the bottled water picture the leader is prompted to read the important message (in English or Spanish) for the audience that states, “your emergency preparedness kit should include at least one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation”. The audience then searches their unique bingo card of 25 emergency preparedness images to find a bottled water match, covers their match with a bingo marker and the game proceeds to emphasize the next principle.
“It was exciting to help develop an engaging, fun way to stress the importance of the emergency preparedness principles of “Making a Plan, Building a Kit and Staying Informed” to a variety of audiences including seniors, children, English as a second language (ESL) students and individuals with functional and access needs” says Kathy Renfrow, Fort Bend County OEM.
As one avid promoter of the game, Barbara Irving of Project Lift, states, “We are able to really get and keep the audience’s attention in an interactive way. We really wanted to be able to make an impact in terms of disaster preparation and prevention education and Ready Bingo is helping us do just that, make an impact”.
Ready Houston has mass produced the Ready Bingo and it’s now available for use by community partners in the City of Houston, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Harris, Galveston and Montgomery Counties.