Editor's note: This article was updated in October 2017.
September is National Preparedness Month – a good time to remember that a good learning environment is a safe and secure one. Therefore, as students, faculty, and staff settle into their back-to-school routines, preparedness must be part of the process.
Whether the emergency is a power outage, severe weather, or an active threat, preparedness is the first step to staying safe and calm. A go-kit is a great way to be prepared during an emergency. These kits can be as simple or as complex as needed to meet the needs of the individual or campus.
Classroom go-kit should include:
- Extra batteries
- Extra cell phone charger (crank or solar are recommended)
- Spare set of glasses
- Extra medications
- First Aid supplies
- Hard copy of list of important phone numbers for family members, close friends, and physicians, as well as copies of medical insurance, medication lists, and other important documents
- A copy of the family, dirtrict or campus emergency operations plan
Classroom go-kits should include the items listed above as well a variety of classroom specific resources.
These classroom resources include:
- Bucket for storing items
- Red card Green card
- Class rosters
- Tarp or ground cover
- Age-appropriate time passers
- Vest or other identifiers
- Paper and Pens
Students also should be encouraged to keep a small readiness kit in their backpack or locker in case an emergency occurs during school hours. College students should have a kit in their dorm room that is in an easily accessible location, such as on a closet shelf, beneath a desk, or under the bed. Likewise, teachers, faculty, and staff should have an easily accessible go-kit for their classroom or office.
Another important step in the preparedness process is to ensure that all students, faculty, staff, and parents register for the emergency notification system that the school uses to keep them inform. People who previously have registered should ensure that this information is up to date at the start of the school year and inform school officials of any changes during the year. In addition, they should have an ICE or “In Case of Emergency” information listing on their cell phones.
While technology is a good resource, students, faculty, and staff should not depend solely upon it for emergency communications. Family communications plans also should include external and internal contacts of a primary family member or friend that everyone knows to contact in an emergency to coordinate status and wellbeing. These should be individuals who can be depended upon to quickly and correctly share information. The family communications plan is important because, during and after most major events, cell phone service may be erratic and texts or other social media communications can be unreliable or confusing.