BACK TO SCHOOL PREPAREDNESS
There is a lot that can be done by school officials to plan for disasters, to limit the risk, to protect the safety of students and teachers, and to ensure that schools recover quickly. All schools should have an emergency response plan that addresses the following:
- Identification of hazards and steps to reduce the risk
- Evacuation plans and routes.
- Needs of students and staff with disabilities.
- Onsite shelter plans.
- Emergency supplies and equipment.
- Plans for releasing students and school personnel.
Parents should know the policies and procedures of their children's school during times of disaster or crisis, and should be involved in the planning process as much as possible. Parents should also make sure the school has their updated emergency contact information. Keep your children's school emergency release card current.
A Special Note About Children
If earthquakes scare us because we feel out of control, think how much more true this must be for children, who already must depend on adults for so much of their lives. It is important to spend time with children in your care before the next earthquake to explain why earthquakes occur. Involve them in developing your disaster plan, prepare earthquake bags, and practice "Drop, Cover, and Hold On." Consider simulating post-earthquake conditions by going without electricity or tap water for a few hours.
After the earthquake, remember that children will be under great stress. They may be frightened, their routine will probably be disrupted, and the aftershocks will not let them forget the experience. Adults tend to leave their children in order to deal with the many demands of the emergency, but this can be devastating to children. Extra contact and support from parents in the early days will pay off later. Whenever possible, include them in the recovery process.