Schools are supposed to be a safe place for children, teachers, and others to come to learn, teach, and grow the community. Today more than ever, it is necessary for school administrators to take a proactive approach to protect those in their care. The dangers impacting schools today include exposure to dangerous cleaning chemicals all the way up to active shooter situations.
While it is absolutely heart wrenching to think about these threats, there are things that can be done to help protect our schools. School leadership teams need to have plans in place to identify risks, prevent threats, and God forbid something ever happen, respond to them quickly and effectively to minimize any harm that is being done.
Identifying & Preventing Threats
All teachers, administrators, and even students need to know how to identify threats as early as possible. This can be done by ensuring the school doors are secured and kept locked except for the main entrance. Video surveillance, as well as remote entry options, can be used to ensure only trusted individuals are able to enter the school, and everyone can be monitored.
Teaching everyone what to watch for, and where to report any suspicious activities, is also very important. If a student sees a gun or knife, or if they see someone making a threatening post on social media, for example, they should know exactly what to do. The sooner the authorities can be made aware of a threat, the more effective their response will be.
Responding to an Active Situation
While identifying and preventing threats is always best, there is also a lot that can be done to keep people safe should an active situation arise. Steps that are taken can help to get people to safe areas, isolate the threat, and help the emergency responders to be able to do their jobs as quickly and effectively as possible. The following are just some of the most important things that a school can do to prepare for an active threat situation.
Visibly Number Rooms
Every room in a school should be numbered so that it is easy to identify where people are. The numbers of each room should be visible from any location so that those in the school can report where they are, and emergency responders can find them as quickly as possible. Numbering school rooms in the following ways are most important:
- Outside the Classroom – Most school rooms already have the room number displayed in the hallway. This identification number should be large, and easy to see regardless of the situation. Using markings that can be seen in light, dark, and even smoke is a good start.
- Inside the Classroom – Placing the room number around the door on the inside is also a good idea. Students need to be able to see which room they are in quickly so they can notify police should they be calling from cell phones.
- Outside Windows – Placing the room numbers on the windows outside the building will help emergency responders to be able to coordinate their efforts effectively. Applying the number to the window, and then covering it with SafetyTac Clear tape will ensure the number is easily visible and won’t get damaged over time.
- In the Office – The office should have a map of where each room number is located readily available. This map should also be provided to police, fire, and ambulance providers in the area.
Known Safety Rooms
Many schools are installing safety doors, windows, and other products to the school to improve their safety. Having specific rooms where students and staff should try to go to in the event of an emergency can be very helpful. These rooms may have reinforced doors, additional locks, and much more depending on the situation. Clearly marking these rooms, and running drills to help train everyone on how to respond could save lives.
Always Work with Area Emergency Responders
These are some effective ways that a school can help the emergency responders to be able to respond properly to any situation. It is always best, however, to work directly with those responders ahead of time to ensure everyone is on the same page. School administrators should contact their local police, fire, and medical facilities to create an emergency response plan that the schools and responders can follow should something happen.
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