Preparedness for everyone (including schools, businesses
and families) begins with a plan of action. Each
school should have a crisis plan in partnership with public safety
agencies, including law enforcement and fire, health, mental health
and local emergency preparedness agencies. This
plan should address traditional crisis and emergencies such as fires, severe weather, school shootings and accidents, as well as biological,
radiological, chemical and terrorist activities.
Plans should address the fundamentals of safety, including
alerts and warnings, adequate staff and student education and training
in preparedness and first aid, evacuation and sheltering in place procedures,
and communication processes to parents. Ensuring
that school staff monitor your NOAA Public Alert Radio is a great way
to stay informed of potential threats. In
addition, the plan should include determinations for whether and when
the school will release students. For
example, children should not be allowed to wait outside for a bus home during
a lightning storm. During
heavy rain, with flash flood watches or warnings, schools should have
written guidelines about the release of students. School
buses could lose control in as little as six inches of water, which
means releasing students can potentially put them at greater risk than
keeping them safe in school.
Additionally, school district crisis plans should address
the unique circumstances and needs of individual schools. Districts
are encouraged to develop a separate plan for each school building,
which should address four major areas:
prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.
And finally, schools need to train, practice, and drill
according to the plan. Documents
on a shelf don't work in a crisis. For
more information on school emergency plans visit the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools Web site: http://www.ed.gov/emergencyplan/.