Why Every Classroom Needs a School Emergency Kit (And What Parents Should Know)
A properly equipped school emergency kit will provide food and water for each student, as well as contain first aid supplies, blankets, flashlights and other items in case of a prolonged emergency situation.
Emergency situations can occur at any place or time, including during the school day when children are present. It's important that each teacher and classroom is prepared to shelter-in-place, or otherwise provide for the well-being of their students with the preparation of a school emergency kit.
Similar to home disaster preparedness kits, a school emergency kit will take into account the specific needs of the classroom, with enough supplies to last for several days, in the event first responders cannot evacuate the building right away.
What to Pack in a School Emergency Kit
Much like emergency bags prepared for the home, enough food and water is needed for every person to last two to three days, along with basic medical necessities and other items that may be required for survival. Each classroom will require different needs based on the age of students, their level of special needs, the time of year and many other factors. Generally, every kit should include:
- Hat or whistle to designate the teacher in charge
- List of students with photos
- List of students requiring special needs and what they entail
- Battery-powered flashlight
- Breathing masks
- Disinfecting wipes
- Non-perishable food and water, enough for every student
- First-aid kit, bleeding control products
- Student entertainment and distraction tools
Parents of special needs students should be encouraged to provide a bag of extra supplies to be kept in the classroom with the school emergency kit, such as gastric feeding tube equipment, medication, or any other supplies they may need.
School emergency kits should be re-evaluated by teachers and administration at the beginning of every season and adjust the contents accordingly by discarding expired or no-longer-useable items and checking batteries.
What Parents Should Know About Preparing for a School Emergency
No parent likes to think about the possibility that they may be away from their child during an emergency situation, but being prepared is better than hoping it never happens. Fortunately, modern schools are more prepared than ever, thanks to an increased focus on planning and preparation by school districts. There are also several things parents can do to help students mentally prepare for an emergency situation.
Be aware. Ask your student's teacher what the emergency plans are for the classroom, and the school as a whole. Know the expected evacuation and reunification routes and how to get in touch with authorities without impeding first responders.
Be prepared. Keep all contact information up-to-date with the school, including cell, work or other numbers you can be reached at, as well as additional emergency contacts in the event they can't get through to you. Have a list of contact information for other parents to reach during a situation and stay in the know.
Talk to your children. Broach the subject of emergency preparedness in an age-appropriate way that underscores the gravity of a potential situation, but also gives them the tools and confidence to survive it. While you may not physically with them during an emergency situation, the knowledge you've given them can be.
Full-Scale Exercises Prep Schools for the Unknown
Having a fully stocked school emergency kit is just one additional safety measure campuses across the country are employing to prepare for a disaster situation. Multi-agency exercises, such as an active shooterr drill, also help administration, staff and students understand the magnitude of potential situations and serve to underscore the importance of being prepared.
In 2013, FEMA released the Guide for Developing High Quality School Emergency Operation Plans, which outlines how to plan for a variety of scenarios, including new lessons from recent tornado outbreaks in Oklahoma and the mass shooting incident in Newtown, Connecticut.