Of all public institutions, schools should be safest of all, especially when it comes to inclement weather. As in any public facility, emergency weather plans should be established. These range from cancelations to emergency shelters and outdoor alert systems. Here are a few ways to help your school become better prepared for any weather situation.
Definition of Emergency
An emergency is defined by the country’s national organization as an “abnormal situation which, in order to limit danger to people or damage to property or environment, requires prompt action beyond normal procedures.”
- Create a Plan of Action
Every school needs a severe weather plan in place. First, educate your staff about weather monitoring and the potential risks associated with various weather events (the difference between a tornado watch and warning, for example). With what you learned, you can assess the safety of your building, such as areas prone to wind and water damage. More importantly, you can identify suitable areas for storm shelter.
Next, create a plan of action in the event of sudden severe weather. When coordinating emergency procedures, bear the following in mind:
- Evacuation time
- Transportation logistics
- Distance and time to reach shelter
- Special needs for student and faculty
Designation of the Person-in-Charge will help too, for example; the principal or his or her designate will be known as the person-in-charge and will have full authority within the provisions of this plan in addiction to the other responsibilities of his or her office. A predetermined chain of command will be established should the principal not be availlable to delegate his or her authority.
- Use Effective Weather Sources
Getting accurate real-time weather information is the best defense against unexpected storms.For instance, an elementary school weather station can collect hyper-localized weather data for both the school and surrounding town. Other tools include lightning detectors, weather radios and real-time storm tracking. The National Weather Service also provides free 24-hour local weather radio reports, which include their Hazardous Weather Outlooks.
- Wait for the All Clear
To ensure the safety of all students and staff, wait for officials to declare the all-clear before exiting your shelter. Once the weather has passed, take this time to assess damage to the building and property that could pose additional safety risks.
To learn how to better prepare your school for severe weather, speak with local weather services and private consultants for more information and tips, such as how to install an outdoor weather station for school.