Take the scary out of emergency drills

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It is essential for every school emergency plan to inform students what to expect during a safety drill without panicking them or undermining the importance. Safety drills do not necessarily need to be a scary topic for students. Whether it be for a fire, a severe weather event, or a school lockdown, you can make drills informative and engaging. Here are a few tips to help your school prepare:

Field Trip

When students go on field trips, they get a chance to interact and bond with their community. Visiting a firehouse, for example, can teach the importance of fire safety, drills and what to do in the event of a fire.  By tailoring activities and lessons to the ages of the students, you can ensure they’re able to learn and engage in the process. Give them a chance to be hands-on by riding in a fire truck, putting on a jacket and helmet, touching hoses and speaking to a real firefighter. These inspiring experiences cannot happen within the confines of the classroom.

Have Special Guests at School

Guest speakers such as police and emergency medical technicians can play an essential part of the educational experience for students. Safety topics such as stranger danger, drugs, bullying and dialing 911 during emergencies may be discussed. Give students the opportunity to ask questions and see the insight and perspective of the guest speaker’s field, and how students can help in a specific situation.

Read Books

Books will help students think through scenarios, so they are better equipped to respond to and cope with an emergency. Through stories, they can witness how characters were resilient and helped others during and after emergencies. Teachers should ask students questions about safety, and emergency preparedness, such as, “How did the characters keep themselves safe?” or “How do you think the characters felt?” which can lead to great classroom discussions.

Conduct Activities

Expand the emergency lessons by taking students’ knowledge about a crisis and applying it to real-life situations.  Students will see how to use this information in a meaningful way, and it will deepen their understanding. Educators can practice drills and see how fast, without running, the class can get to safety.  For older students, teachers could create some unexpected obstacles, such as an imaginary fire that means students cannot exit through that route.

Turning safety explanations into a kind of game can help, detailing the “actions” and “rules” used when an alarm goes off (e.g., staying calm, following a staff member through the nearest fire exit, walking to the assembly point, lining up in a specific place, etc.)

Explore the Imagination

Teachers can have older students dramatize emergency situations than have discussions of what to do. For younger students, coloring books with helpful information to reinforce topics covered during presentations can be useful. This will give students a better understanding of safety rules for the school and what to do in the event of an emergency.

The key for students to learn how to prepare and quickly make their way to safety in the event of an emergency is consistency.  By tailoring activities and lessons to the age of the classroom, students can learn and have fun in the process.  Making safety a positive experience will help reduce your student’s anxiety during a drill.

Interested in going deeper on the topic of safety and security for your school district?  Learn more at https://www.blackboard.com/k12/school-safety.html.