Preparing for an emergency in a school Boarding House is essential in keeping your staff and students safe. Whilst we hope an event doesn’t happen at difficult times, there is a chance it can.
Being on the front foot and prepared is not only key for the safety of your students and staff, but it helps build confidence and trust with parents and caregivers.
We’ve broken down 10 tips to consider when preparing:
1 – Develop an emergency plan
The first step in preparing for after-hours emergencies in a boarding school is to develop a comprehensive emergency plan that covers different scenarios. This plan should be communicated effectively to all staff and students.
Make it accessible and revised regularly. This plan isn’t just a compliance requirement, it should be something that slots comfortably within all other documents your staff refer to.
2 – Conduct regular evacuation drills
Regular drills (both lockdown and evacuation) help to test the effectiveness of the emergency plan and also familiarise staff and students with emergency procedures.
Bounce Readiness have designed, facilitated, and led dozens of evacuation drills. We have seen that our clients of boarding schools often leave relieved that they found and filled the holes within their evacuation procedures during a practised, safe environment.
Furthermore, drills can help build and maintain a level of resilience within your culture. Getting people used to them now can mean a stronger response when it’s real.
3 – Maintain communication lines
Ensure that there are reliable means of communication to alert staff and emergency services in the event of an emergency.
Consider the scenarios that may present themselves, like the temperamental nature of technology, or simply not having contact details up to date.
4. Train staff and students
Staff and students should receive training on basic first aid, evacuation procedures, and other emergency response procedures.
Not only is this valuable for young adults to have these essential skills, it enforces the resilient culture you are building. Confidence and knowledge is shared and everyone responds together during an event which improves the outcome.
5 – Keep emergency supplies
6 – Assign responsibilities
Designate specific roles and responsibilities to staff members during emergencies so that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.
Make sure this information is always accessible and include it in your induction and onboarding for new staff.
7 – Have a backup power source
Power outages can occur during emergencies, so it is essential to have a backup power source like a generator ready, working, and accessible.
If this isn’t available, consider a suitable backup option for how you manage the situation if bad weather or similar circumstances are involved.
8 – Make sure all emergency exits are functional
Ensure that all emergency exits are unobstructed and functional in case of an emergency. This should be part of a daily procedure conducted throughout the premises.
It doesn’t need to be formal, but key individuals should be encouraged to check this as you prepare for the evening ahead.
9 – Establish a protocol for parents
In case of an emergency, establish a protocol for how parents will be informed and updated. Make sure that parents know this protocol and have confidence in how you will keep communication channels strong and open.
Whilst communication is key, during serious situations you may experience parents getting on-site. During the Christchurch March 2019 Mosque shooting, schools across the city went into lockdown. However, hundreds of parents rushed to gather their children, completely disrupting standard lockdown procedures and protocols for the schools. Key entrances onto premises were breached, unidentified adults were present, control was quickly diminished in some cases. Don’t let this happen to you.
10 – Review and update your plans
Regular review and updating of the emergency plan ensure it remains relevant and effective. A plan is never ‘complete’. It evolves and moves with your organisation and the people within it. Therefore, ensure these are living and breathing documents you can rely on.
We have become experts at helping schools across Australia manage and develop better Incident Management and Emergency Management plans and programs. You can contact us today for a no obligation discussion on how we can help you.