Spring Tornado Season and Schools
We are about to release the March issue of School Safety Monthly. This issue is focused on ways to prepare schools for natural disasters. Steve Satterly was kind enough to conduct research and to author articles for this issue. My son Chris and our editor, Morgan Billinger, have also done an exceptional job of editing and formatting this month’s issue.
Effective ways to prepare schools for tornadoes
There are a number of concrete steps that school officials can take to reduce the risks associated with tornadoes and other natural disasters. While this month’s issue of School Safety Monthly will address natural disasters as a whole, this blog will be focused on ways to reduce the risks related to tornadoes.
Steve Satterly has not only extensively researched schools and tornado safety, he has done so because he has first-hand experience with a tornado damaging his school as an administrator.
When I asked Steve for a few key areas that school officials can consider for the Spring Tornado season, he provided the following key points:
Make sure everyone knows their safe areas
Satterly points out that just posting sheltering diagrams is not enough. He suggests that teachers be trained to know all tornado sheltering areas in their school. This is important because teachers and other staff may need to shelter students who are in transit when a tornado warning is received or a tornado is detected in the area.
Meet with your local EMA Director to go over your tornado plans
Your local emergency management agency (EMA) can be a valuable and free resource. Emergency managers are typically well-versed on the all-hazards approach and can often provide valuable information and assistance.
Practice your plans
While written emergency protocols can be important, training staff on the written plans and affording them a chance to practice implementing them is often even more important. Utilizing a drill process that requires individual staff to make the decision to implement the appropriate emergency protocol for a scenario they have been presented with can dramatically improve the ability of school employees to make appropriate and prompt decisions under the often highly stressful conditions of an actual crisis event.
Communicate with your community
Making a reasonable effort to effectively communicate what you are doing to better prepare students and staff for tornados can be very important in establishing and maintaining a high level of trust. Parents who are informed that school officials take the risks of tornado seriously are less likely to panic if a tornado touches down in the community during school hours.
For more information on this timely and important topic, be sure to check out the March issue of School Safety Monthly.