What Should Your School Prepare For?
Whether you are a school administrator, a member of the PTA or a parent of a child in the school, your goal is the same: the safety and security of the kids while they are attending school. There are many things that may threaten the well-being of your child during school hours but thankfully, most kids will never experience them. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornados or severe storms may be prevalent in your area or your school may be close to a chemical plant or refinery which may have an accidental discharge or fire. Other threats such as fires, floods, blackouts or a school shooter do not depend on the school's location and should be considered when putting together a preparedness plan. Visit www.moreprepared.com for preparedness tips for specific types of disasters.
Questions to Ask
Once you have identified the potential threats facing your school, you will need to find out what plans are currently in place in the event one occurs. Ask your school principal or administrator what their plans are and how often these plans are reviewed and updated. Are the teachers formally trained on a regular basis and do they perform drills with the students so that they will know what to do if something happens? What types of supplies are on hand at school and how recently were they checked and restocked? If you are like most schools, you will find that they don't know the answers to many of these questions. This can result from budget cuts or lack of time and resources, however, it is your child's well-being that is at stake so ask the questions and don't stop until you are heard.
What to Do Now
At a minimum, all schools should identify any hazards in the school, especially in the classroom, and mitigate them. Maps showing the escape routes from each classroom should be posted on their doors. Evacuation drills should be held regularly so everyone knows where they are supposed to go. Identify the needs of students and staff with disabilities so that special arrangements can be made, if needed. Prepare onsite shelter plans and set up plans for releasing students and school personnel. Communicate the plan to students, staff and parents. Check current emergency supplies and equipment on hand and update as necessary to cover all students and faculty for a minimum of one to three days. Keep updated emergency contact information for each student in each class as well as with the emergency supplies.
Emergency Kits Fundraiser
Budget cuts are one reason that schools may not be able to readily purchase supplies. The PTA can organize fundraisers to raise money to purchase supplies for the students and faculty. Traditional ways to raise funds involve selling magazines, gift wrap, cookie dough and candy. Many schools have been looking for more creative ideas that involve more practical or useful items. One such idea is selling Emergency Kits to raise money to buy Emergency Kits. Not only are you helping the families who purchase kits for their own homes, they know the funds are going to a much-needed cause. Click here for more information on having your own Emergency Kits Fundraiser.