September has come around yet again so it’s time to talk about what PACs and faculty can do to make their school emergency ready. At Total Prepare we understand that teachers and parents are some of the busiest people on the planet, so we make preparedness as simple as can be! Below we’ll talk about our worry-free fundraisers, parent-direct buying programs, and bulk ordering processes, as well as drills, training, and programs available to schools.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
On the third Thursday of October every year there is a major earthquake that can be witnessed across the world. It’s imaginary, but you’ll still see millions of people practicing Drop, Cover, and Hold On and evacuating schools and businesses. This phenomenon is called Shake Out.
Shake Out is the largest coordinated earthquake drill in the world, and the perfect excuse to talk preparedness. Register your school to be listed as a participant and when the clock strikes 10:17am, be ready to Drop! Find resources to help you plan your drill, or to increase awareness of students and staff, here. This year’s drill is on October 17 (2019) at 10:17am.
Nothing improves skills like practice, practice, practice! When it comes to honing the reactions of students and staff for an emergency, the same holds true. Ensuring that everyone knows their role and is familiar with what steps they are meant to follow will help your emergency plans run smoothly in the event of a disaster.
Work with your school to create a calendar for drills throughout the year and be sure to cover a variety of emergencies. Ask teachers to discuss emergency procedures and best practices with their students in the week(s) leading up to each planned drill. Types of drills to consider include: Fire, Earthquake (for BC and Quebec), and Lock Downs. While many other emergencies may affect a school, these three are the easiest to simulate and practice for.
Practice sheltering in place, evacuating, and choose some lucky students to pretend to be injured. This helps students and staff to practice reacting to unexpected circumstances that are very likely to occur in a real emergency.
If you’re practicing an earthquake drill have a noise or signal mark the quake. A tone, an announcement, or having teachers bang on desks have all been used. My high school would actually play the sound of a real earthquake through the PA system.
At the signal have students Drop, Cover, and Hold On under their desks or other sturdy furniture and count to 60. Feel free to play the signal noise a second time to signal an aftershock, at which point counting should begin again at zero. Once the biggest danger of aftershocks has passed, escort students to the school’s muster point and await further instructions. Depending on your schools approach, you could even practice distributing supplies.
Fire drills should include the fire alarm so students are familiar with the sound. One it’s ringing students will need to evacuate calmly, without stopping to grab their things. Be sure students know to crawl under smoke and to test doorknobs for heat before opening them if they can’t see inside.
Work with students to practice hiding, barricading doors (carefully), and finding the best escape routes. Go over protocols and how to handle the situation. For more information on this check out our article on Man-Made Emergencies.
Hurray! It’s a Pro-D Day! Oh, but wait… we’re not students anymore! Suddenly it’s not just a day off, but a ‘professional development’ day. Alas. It’s time for our teachers to hone their already impressive skills and sculpt student success with extra training and collaboration. *Cue Rocky soundtrack.*
Pro-D days are the perfect opportunity to ensure that all teachers and staff understand the school’s emergency processes without the added complication of students underfoot. Going over plans, muster points, different types of emergencies, roles, and responsibilities is an excellent addition to any Pro-D day plan. After all, if your teachers don’t know what they’re meant to do, how will the students?
In lockdown situations students and staff can be trapped in one classroom for hours without access to a bathroom. In winter storms and earthquakes they might be trapped on school grounds for days if the roads are inaccessible. Is your school prepared to feed, hydrate, and care for everyone?
Emergency authorities across Canada recommend being prepared for at least 72 hours in the event of an emergency – and that counts for schools too. The most important areas to cover are food, water, sanitation, and warmth – but ideally there would be enough supplies to cover all eight areas of preparedness. If you live in an earthquake zone please – please – be sure to have enough N95 masks on hand for everyone. They’re inexpensive lifesavers.
If you are planning a supply cache for a school and aren’t sure where to keep things there are a few common practices I’d like to tell you about.
Classroom Kits – Many schools and daycares choose to keep a kit in every classroom.
Storage Chests – Keeping kits in large, locking chests throughout the school is another popular method. This works best if the emergencies you’re planning for will allow freedom of movement throughout the halls.
Sea-Can – Most popular with middle and high schools, Sea-Cans allow for supplies to be securely stored in bulk. This works great if emergency muster points put your student body all in one place. Very common when planning for earthquakes.
Total Prepare has a variety of workplace and classroom kits that can work for the above options. If you’re looking to fill a container, or want something specific, just contact us and we’ll be happy to help!
Individual Comfort Kits Made Easy
Many schools choose to have a handful of communal supplies like toilet buckets and tarps. They’ll then ask parents and sometimes even teachers to pack their own emergency supplies. Usually these need to be refreshed every year to replace granola bars and bottled water, and require parents to go all over town in search of obscure items like emergency blankets.
Total Prepare is taking the hassle out of this process! Let us know the name of your school and we’ll provide a pdf handout for students to take home, or for email distribution. It details the quick and easy process that parents and teachers can use to order a Basic Student Emergency Kit directly from our online store.
The orders are collected, built, and labelled with each student/teachers name and grade before being shipped to the school for distribution. It’s that easy! No helter-skelter across town looking for ONE light stick with kids in tow. No standing in the grocery aisle comparing expiry dates. No arguing with parents/teachers over any missing items from the requirements list. Just one pdf, one online order, and BAM! Your kids are prepared. And they’re not just prepared for this school year. Our kits have a 5 year shelf life – so they’re set for half of their school career!
Want to participate? Contact us and we’ll hook you up! (As the kid’s say… or used to say. It’s been a while.)
Masters of Disaster
If you live in BC you have free access to a program called ‘Masters of Disaster.’ It’s a prepared curriculum on emergency preparedness that includes handy resources like workbooks. The program is designed to educate BC youth on safety and preparedness, and looks at the 10 biggest risks in BC.
Total Prepare encourages teachers and faculty outside of BC to take inspiration from the program too. Many of the ideas discussed happen throughout Canada, like wildfires and flooding. Regardless of where our young people are, teaching them how to react to emergencies will help set them up for success.
Parents! Check in with your teachers to see if your child is being molded into a Master of Disaster. If not, take it into your own hands. The curriculum is posted for free online and is simple for anyone to follow. We’ve also written about getting kids involved with emergency kits and training in the past, if you’d like more tips.
Encourage Preparedness at Home
No matter where you are, or what grades your school covers, there is one rule that all school emergency plans rely on more than anything else. One factor that decides the effectiveness of all other precautions and defines the desired outcome for educational facilities. That rule? At some point, parents will want their kids back.
Often when we work with schools we hear about how they only need a handful of supplies because the kids will all be picked up by parents right away. This always strikes me as a very optimistic way to approach emergency preparedness. We’re in the business of ‘what ifs’ and there are so many ways parents could be delayed or unable to reach the school in a major disaster.
All businesses, organizations, households, and yes, even schools, should have at least 72 hours of supplies on hand for everyone on the premises. In an ideal world, this would be the case. But here in our crazy 2019-earth we have the reality of budgets to deal with, and trust us, we get it.
If funds won’t allow your school to prepare optimally, then your best line of defense for students is to ensure their families are prepared. Making sure they have emergency contacts, reunification plans, and supplies (so they don’t stay once they have their kids) is really important.
When it comes to getting families to prepare, nothing works better than a little incentive. Total Prepare is happy to help with that! We have complete fundraiser programs that allow schools and PACs to receive up to a 35% fundraising rebate on certain products. We provide order sheets, guidance, and once orders are ready we’ll ship them all to the school for distribution (clearly labelled of course!)
When everything has shipped we’ll be in touch with the organizer to let you know how much the fundraiser raised and you can decide to either spend it as a credit towards emergency supplies, or have us send the school a cheque. It really is that easy.
Some of the most memorable lessons I learned in school were taught by people other than teachers. The consequences of drinking and driving, how much sugar is in Coca-Cola, and what it’s like to live with mental health issues were all things that stuck with me thanks to guest speakers. The same can be true for emergency preparedness.
Total Prepare offers workshops that can easily be brought to schools in BC, but every province is full of great people who work in the emergency services industry. Fire Chiefs, search and rescue personnel, or emergency managers are all great people to ask. Subjects to try and cover would be:
- What are the major risks in your area?
- What do you do during these emergencies?
- How can you prepare in advance?
- What will be the consequences after the emergency? (How much damage will it do?)
Total Prepare offers programs to ease the headaches of fundraisers, student comfort kits, and supplying a school for an emergency. We make it simple while providing answers and guidance throughout. We’re always here to answer any and all questions from parents, PACs, and faculty, and we’ll support you every step of the way.
Supplies aside, education is the best way to prepare for an emergency. Teaching students through programs like Masters of Disaster, and encouraging parents to get involved at home are great steps towards ensuring the success of students and our communities in the event of an emergency.
Thank you for reading, and as always: be prepared, not scared.
This article was written by Zenia Platten – Author of Tethered and emergency preparedness professional.