School Security Expert Tip – Using Red or Yellow Text in School Crisis Plans Can Cause Problems

Schools across the country are retaining school security experts to perform school security assessments.  While this can be a positive step, there are many simple and easy to implement ideas to improve school security.  We try to share the things our analysts have learned while assisting our clients with thousands of security audits for school facilities in each school security expert tip.

During school security assessments, our analysts evaluate school crisis plans and emergency diagrams.  One thing we see often are documents where key words and phrases have been highlighted in red or yellow text to draw the reader’s eye to the important word or phrase.  For example, a word in a crisis plan action step will be printed in red text.  Another common example involves the marking of emergency evacuation routes on fire evacuation diagrams.  We often see these marked with red lines to make them appear more prominently in the diagrams.

While this is a well-intentioned effort that will help most readers, there is a problem.  Many people who are color-blind cannot see certain colors.  This can result in the red or yellow words disappearing for those readers.  This could have serious ramifications in some situations.  We find this in more than half of the school security assessments we perform, and I have heard the same concern expressed by other school security experts who have noted the same finding during their school security assessments. 

What do school security experts recommend to address this?

One way to try to achieve the same positive effect while not creating the same problem is to use a light and bright color highlight for the letters or route marking while still using black text.  This can make the information stand out for the reader without causing the key information to disappear for readers who are color-blind.  Effective communication is important during school crisis situations.

While this is a simple and easy to apply school security expert tip – it can be a critical one.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.