Every school is required to have procedures for the evacuation of students and staff in the event of an emergency. While each school’s individual programs and procedures vary, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducts research on various procedures and provides guidelines and recommendations about what preparations schools should have in place.
These include signals to let staff know what sort of emergency situation they’re dealing with and the actions they should take to protect lives. Other escape procedures need to be determined as well, such as who should go where, by what route and in what order.
Each class should have a backpack or other carryall containing emergency supplies, such as a first aid kit, flashlight and a map of their assigned escape route. These should be taken whenever an evacuation is announced.
Methods of accounting for students and staff also need to be in place. During an evacuation, groups leave by different routes. Proper communication requires that, in the event of a missing or injured student or staff member, the information can be relayed to firefighters or emergency personnel immediately.
Some of the staff should be trained in CPR and other basic medical procedures to provide basic care before emergency personnel arrive and to assist emergency personnel in tending to injuries.
It should be decided beforehand whose duty it is to report emergencies so that time is not wasted or taken from other essential duties. This person should have a list of who to call for each type of emergency and should know the procedures already being taken to handle the emergency.
A list should be made of all potential fire hazards and the proper ways to handle them. Potential ignition sources should be listed, along with the methods of controlling them. Also on the list should be whatever systems are in place to control a fire, such as the locations of fire extinguishers and fire alarm pulls.
All staff and students should be trained in the evacuation procedures, as well as any duties and functions they may serve in an emergency situation. Emergency numbers should be kept in an accessible place where they can be quickly and easily found.