A free evolved and developed society comes with a price and we now live in an increasingly violent and dangerous world. Places that were once considered safe havens are a source of potential crisis. Schools are such a place being both vulnerable and symbolic. They house the nation’s future, they symbolise society and the value of education. They are an important component of not only the educational system but also the community at large. We all have a responsibility to protect our schools and everyone there. If a person enters the school campus with the intent of doing harm then the decision and the actions we take in the first minutes can be the difference between life and death for everyone involved. How we react at the first few minutes of the situation can really dictate the next several hours and as well as the distant future. We should educate kids about all safety measures and must impart age appropriate information to them about such incidents.
When it comes to safety in schools today, many schools are not only implementing the fire drills but lock down drills as well. Lockdown drills are also different from evacuation drills. Evacuation drills are designed to prepare students, teachers, administrators, and other people in the school to leave the building quickly and in a pre-planned and organised fashion in the event of danger such as a bomb threat, when conditions outside the building are safer than the conditions inside the building.
School lockdown drills involve teaching children and adults how to barricade themselves in classrooms and hide from an armed and violent intruder. This may be necessary for situations where an evacuation would not be appropriate.
Steps of school Lockdown drills include:
Quietly and quickly enter the nearest classroom whenever there is an announcement about a lockdown emergency. If you are already in a classroom stay put and if you are in the hallway or out of your classroom do not loiter to find your own classroom, instead just walk into any nearest classroom.
Doors to classrooms should be closed and locked by any teacher or a student. Try to close the door without entering the hallway. Do not panic and do not close the door with a loud bang.
Barricade the door quickly with portable furniture. Students should barricade the door from inside by moving classroom furniture like the nearby tables, desks and chairs towards the door. This will create a block for the intruder both physically and mentally. Stack furniture as high as safely possible. Should an intruder get the door opens their vision and paths will limit their desire to enter the room.
Secure the windows and pull down window shades. While the barricade is being put up, another student can just go and close and lock the window to block any view from the outside. Any open window must be closed to prevent any intruder from entering the safe area.
Turn off lights, projectors and monitors in the meanwhile. It is important to know where the light switch is and turn it off immediately without causing any panic.
Stay calm and composed at such moment of crisis. If you panic then you are likely to make a wrong move. Just breathe in and breathe out and stay quiet.
Students should move to the safe area of the classroom without any panic. The place where you hide should be the least visible area of the classroom to any potential outside threat. It is tough to stay quiet and composed in darkness but such an emergency situation demands right actions.
Next, take attendance of the students. Once all the tasks are completed and you are settled down safely inside the classroom one should make a note of all the students who are normally present in the classroom and of those extra students who have entered the room during this emergency.
The red and green sheet is required as an indication. If there is a danger or a threat in the classroom or if you need immediate emergency assistance turn the sheet to the red side and stick it up on the window facing out as your class sign. If your classroom is secured leave your class sign with the green side facing outside.
Never use the phone to make any calls outside. Remain quiet and seated during the lockdown. Do not use the classroom phone unless there is an emergency inside the classroom.
End the Lockdown when you get an all clear signal from the recognisable officials.
Schools these days make it mandatory for students to follow a Lockdown drill. If your school hasn’t performed a lockdown drill yet, we have listed all the safety measures above to help you. Regardless of whether a lockdown situation occurs because of an intruder, it is important to plan for what happens after the lockdown is initiated. This is true for schools, and also for hospitals, government and retail locations that have similar plans in place. In order to determine the appropriate course of action and ensure the highest possible level of safety for occupants, first responders require as much information as possible about an emergency. The greater the situational awareness they have, the more effective the response will be. After all, we must hope for the best but prepare for the worst!