Even as a child, Dakota Fanning was no stranger to a movie set. While she had filmed all over, one location in particular raised some lingering concern.

Fanning was only 10 years old when she worked on location in New Orleans for the movie Dreamer, just one year before Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. The unprecedented storm killed hundreds and drove over 1 million people from their homes. More than 5,000 children were also reported missing in the immediate aftermath.

“As I was watching the news coverage from the safety of my home, I couldn’t help but wonder ‘What if?’” Fanning said. “What if Katrina struck when I was there? What if I got separated from my family and left on my own? I was just a kid. I would have been helpless and that petrified me. I thought of all the other 10 year olds in New Orleans for whom those ‘what ifs’ had been an unexpected reality.”

Take the Preparedness Pledge

As an ambassador for the international nonprofit Save the Children, Fanning has since gone back to the Gulf Coast region to visit the organization’s early childhood education programs in Mississippi. She has also traveled to Louisiana to take part in a Prep Rally, a signature part of Save the Children’s Get Ready Get Safe emergency preparedness campaign that helps the next generation of kids prepare for future disasters. It was at that Prep Rally in New Orleans where Fanning took the Preparedness Pledge alongside more than 50 children, and spent time with kids like Da’juan, a girl who was born the same year Hurricane Katrina hit.

“Disaster can strike at any time, and Save the Children offers a fun way to make emergency preparedness a priority for kids and families.”

“That’s one of the many reasons why I teamed up with Save the Children,” Fanning said. “I want kids like Da’juan and their families to be prepared for the worst, feel safe and be protected.”

Do the “Prep Step”

During National Preparedness Month this September, Save the Children and Fanning are mobilizing kids to learn the “Prep Step,” a song and dance that teaches the fundamentals of preparing for emergencies, as part of the Get Ready Get Safe initiative. This includes three key actions: Make an In Case of Emergency (ICE) card that contains emergency contact and medical information that is critical when kids are separated from their parents during disaster; establish a family emergency plan that identifies evacuation routes out of your home and a safe place to take shelter during a storm; and pack a “go bag” for each child that includes nonperishable food items, a flashlight, medical supplies, water, personal hygiene items, a stuffed toy for comfort and activity items.

“Disaster can strike at any time, and Save the Children offers a fun way to make emergency preparedness a priority for kids and families,” Fanning said. “If children learn these critical ‘Prep Steps’ now, they will be in a better position to stay safe when faced with an unexpected reality.”