BACK TO SCHOOL
It is very important that parents, guardians, staff and students are aware of the major hazards a school might face and they should understand the procedures to follow if a severe weather should occur.
The most important part of safety in schools is to develop an effective plan tailored to your building’s design to ensure optimal safety. A lot of schools implement outdated plans, or plans which do not take into account the specifics of their respective building structures. This can be dangerous, considering that every school is built differently.
Ultimately, the school administrators need to evaluate the time, space, traffic flow and coordination needed to direct all the children and staff to safe areas in an organized manner. This will require running several customized drills each tailored to individual buildings.
Portable classrooms, also known as a “demountables”, are portable buildings installed at schools for temporary classroom space. All severe weather safety plans must include getting students out of portable classrooms and into a safe area in the main building of the school as quickly as possible. Once a severe weather alert is issued, students should be evacuated from these portable classrooms immediately.
Large, open-span areas, such as gymnasiums, auditoriums, and lunchrooms, can be very dangerous during severe weather, and should not be used for sheltering people. These open area rooms are vulnerable to inherent structural weaknesses and a lack of adequate roof support, making them prone to collapsing in stronger winds or in severe weather conditions.
SOME ADVANCE STRATEGIES
A carefully developed drill should be conducted several times a year to keep students and staff in good practice, and to eliminate problems. Also, large and easy to read maps or signs should be posted throughout the hallways directing people to the safe areas.
•If a storm watch is issued, administrators should monitor the storm carefully.
•If the school’s alarm system relies on electricity, there should also be a compressed air horn or megaphone to sound the alert in case of a power failure.
•All schools should develop plans for disabled students.
•All schools should designate someone to be trained to turn off electricity and gas promptly and safely should the need arise.
•Assemblies or lunch in large rooms should be postponed or moved if severe weather is approaching.
Information from: Weather Ready Nation and Ready.gov