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National Preparedness Month 2018: Schools

Author: ServiceMaster Restore

Recognized each September, National Preparedness Month reminds communities of the importance of proper planning. From floods to wildfires, this month provides helpful information and resources to help everyone plan for disasters that may occur in their area.

Since disasters often strike with little to no warning, it's important that everyone knows what to do in order to respond to and recover from the worst. That preparation extends outside of the home. Since children spend much of their times in schools, it's crucial that educational facilities have a preparedness plan just in case a disaster strikes during school hours. To help your school create an emergency plan, use these tips from ServiceMaster Restore®.

How to create a school emergency plan

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), disasters and emergencies affect millions of children worldwide every year. Since over 69 million children attend school or childcare during the week, it's vital that caregivers and educators know how they can help protect these kids if a disaster were to strike.

Every school will have different needs based on its location, facility, population and age range. However, there are strategies that can help to safeguard your faculty and students, regardless of your school's unique characteristics. Consider the following preparedness steps when developing your own school emergency plan:

  • Have a complete, documented Emergency Operations Plan in place that includes prevention, protection and mitigation measures that can be shared among staff members.
  • Develop a communication plan for students, parents and faculty to keep everyone aware of what they can and should do if an emergency strikes.
  • Have your building inspected for structural quality and disaster preparedness requirements regularly.
  • Have all fire safety and detection equipment inspected regularly.
  • Create or update your emergency supply kits in every classroom.
  • Communicate with local officials to learn about any community-wide disaster protocols.

If you need help developing your school's disaster preparedness plan, use the disaster preparedness and recovery resources for K-12 schools listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.

How to teach students about emergency preparedness

When a serious event like a natural disaster happens, the situation can be traumatic and confusing for a child. Ensuring that our youth is properly prepared for emergencies doesn't only help to keep them safe, it also gives them the confidence and reassurance they need to respond to a disaster. Sometimes, teaching kids preparedness tips start at home. Other times, it may be up to schools to ensure that the children under their care can stay safe if a disaster strikes at school. Use the following tips to help teach your students about your school's emergency plan.

Make preparedness important

Explain to the students why learning about disasters, practicing drills and running preparedness activities can help keep them safe. As a class, you can go through the room’s disaster supply kit to get familiar with what each item is, how to use it and when the students may need to use it.

Practice regularly

Have students and staff practice evacuation procedures for different types of disasters. That way, everyone will know exactly where to go and what to do during specific emergencies.

Make preparedness fun

There are games, apps and activity books available to help young children understand what could happen in different emergency situations. By making learning about these topics fun, children will be more confident and can better react to a disaster if one were to strike.

Invite speakers to teach the students

Connect with local first responders and community partners to help kids learn from their own heroes what they can do to help in a disaster. Speakers can also work with school officials to evaluate and update their school emergency plan to ensure it’s as effective as possible.

By teaching the children in our community about disaster preparedness, they can gain the necessary confidence to help them better react to and recover from any potential emergencies. Take part in this year's National Preparedness Month to help the students in your school prepare for your local community's disaster risks.

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