Steps to Take in School Emergency Preparedness
|Monitoring Systems||Safety Plans|
What will happen if an emergency happens during school hours? Will you be prepared for it? What about your students? These are extremely important questions. Every single school needs to have an emergency plan in place in case of an emergency.
The last important thing that I would like to mention is that students must understand what kind of emergencies could happen. This isn't to scare them, but rather provide them with the facts of what disasters they could be up against, and to prepare them for such disasters.
In order for schools to be effective during emergency situations, they must have a comprehensive and thoroughly communicated plan of action. Teachers must be aware of what is expected of them for every instance whether it is fire, injury, suspicious circumstances, weapons, or student fighting. There are steps to take in school emergency preparedness that both administrators and teachers must follow! Additionally, this plan of action must be discussed with the student and parent body.
FEMA has streamlined steps to take in school emergency preparedness. The offer a guide titled Are You Ready, which details exactly what must be done to safeguard teachers and students during emergency situations at schools. A facilitator guide is also available with tools and teacher worksheets so that the information can be delivered to students and parents. When all facets of an organization are clear on expectations and plans of actions - emergency situations can be much less devastating and dramatic.
The first step to take in a school emergency preparedness plan is to make a plan. While simple, schools must outline specific problems complete with fictional situations so that staff can be familiar with the plan. This plan should include easy access to emergency personnel as well as evacuation regulations and plans. The information should be clearly available throughout the school so that even a visitor to the premises would be able to follow it. The plan should envelope situations like school violence, weather disasters, injury or illness, hostage situations, fire safety and terrorist activity, and even gas leaks or water problems. Schools should also be able to make a plan for situations that may occur on a community or national level.
Other steps to take in a school emergency preparedness plan include having easy access to family contacts and establishing rules of family communication. Utility shut off and safety should be dispatched to teachers throughout the school and secondary levels of communication among staff members should be available via two-way radios. Special needs students should also be included in the plan.
Identifying an escape route is another essential step to take in a school emergency preparedness plan. The floor plan of the school should be readily available and should be review with students and staff several times throughout the school year. Each classroom should have a clearly marked escape route available at the door for students and teachers. Make sure that each classroom establishes a 'meeting place' so that people can be accounted for. This is absolutely essential in every plan.
One of the most essential steps to take in a school emergency preparedness plan is to empower employees of the school with safety skills. The plan must be practiced; however funding should be available for teachers to take CPR classes and be able to administer basic first aid. There are also extended learning classes that can help teachers remain calm during an emergency so that they are able to take control of the situation. Teachers should know how to use a fire extinguisher and should be able to turn off basic utilities in the school in the event of an emergency.
The last step in every emergency preparedness plan is... practice. The government regulates safety drills and fire drills every month, however schools must be proactive in providing practice situations for teachers and students and reviewing the information. Providing safety assemblies for the student body and sending home checklist and contact information forms so that parents are involved and easily access is also important.
Resources On School Emergency Preparedness
- (CEPPO) Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Disaster Reponse.Org
- Disaster Research Center
- Emergency Preparedness Check List
- FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Natural Hazards Center
- Severe Weather Safety Guide
- The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)- The official web site of OSHA.