School safety is front and center on the minds of every educator in today’s times. There are many risks students face, including the risk of fire. For this reason, it’s important for schools to conduct regular fire safety drills each school year to familiarize students and staff with the proper procedures to follow.
These tips can help you generate more effective fire safety drills in your school.
- Educate staff on proper evacuation procedures before each school year begins and revisit the safety plan prior to each drill. This ensures teachers and other staff know what their responsibilities are and where they should go and how they should direct their students in the event of a fire drill.
- Have a plan in place to verify that all students are accounted for. If a real fire occurs, you need to adopt a no child left behind policy and make sure that all students in your care are accounted for. The drills should be no different.
- Don’t forget to consider drills during unexpected times, like lunch, recess, early morning, or during after-school dismissal as well. Also, make sure you have a plan for walking substitute teachers and student teachers who may not be as familiar with your procedures through these drills and have someone assigned to work with them if an actual fire occurs.
- Have a way to measure how effective the drills are and if there is an improvement from one drill to the next. This also means you need to conduct several throughout the year to make sure that everyone is on the same page and up-to-date with the procedures.
- Use push-to-talk two-way radios to coordinate communication and relay data throughout the school safety fire drill. This allows teachers to communicate with administrators when their students have cleared the building and are in their assigned locations and can facilitate efforts to ensure all students are accounted for. In actual fires, they can be used to relay safety information and signal emergencies if they become trapped in an attempt to exit the building. Many models come equipped with SOS/Panic buttons.
- Inform students of their escape routes for every classroom and post-evacuation procedures from that classroom to the proper exit prominently where all students can see it.
- Encourage all staff members to maintain calm and composure throughout the fire safety drill while promoting a sense of urgency among students. Fires can happen at any time. Students look to teachers and administrators to help them remain calm, especially if they aren’t sure whether it’s a planned drill or an active fire.
Fires are terrifying to students and school staff alike. Feeling like there is some degree of control by knowing the escape route and maintaining order while getting everyone out of the building promotes calm and comfort and increases safety.