Most schools' evacuation plans are insufficient-how does yours stack up?

Now that we’ve examined the state-by-state implications of the Save the Children report, let’s take some time to talk individually about each of the components and how these critical elements might apply to your school or organization.

1. A written evacuation or relocation plan for moving children to an alternate site that addresses multiple hazards.

The first critical element is an evacuation or relocation plan. A written plan for moving children to an alternate site should be one of the response protocols of a school and/or district’s emergency operations plan or crisis plan. This plan should include primary and secondary evacuation sites, evacuation routes, and procedures to ensure for the accountability and safety of students en-route to the site. Evacuation is an appropriate response in the event of bomb threats, damage to the building, or in any circumstance where it is unsafe to stay in the building. This requires consideration of multiple hazards when developing plans and protocols.

Does your school have a specific evacuation plan that speaks to (1) the situations in which evacuation would occur (2) the evacuation sites to go to and (3) the route and procedures to get there? More significantly, do all staff members know these things as well? Are the evacuation sites open and accessible at all times? Have arrangements been made in advance for the use of these sites? While most EOPs address evacuation in some fashion, as evidenced by the Save the Children report card findings, few of them are truly comprehensive and multi-hazard in nature.