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​​What are the likely types of emergencies in schools?

10 Sep, 2022

Schools that plan specifically for the different types of emergencies are better-equipped to save lives. 

Emergencies – from floods to fire, earthquake, storm or even infrastructure failure – can be disastrous no matter the time of the year, no matter where a school might be located. Whether your campus is in the country, near the ocean or in the suburbs of a city, it will have a set of unique risks that you will therefore need to create a set of unique plans for. It is very important that schools of all sizes have comprehensive emergency evacuation plans in place to deal with these risks. After all, there is nothing more important than keeping students and staff safe. 

What are some of the key risks to schools?

  • Accidents, such as fires, hazardous material spills, explosions, and structural collapse

  • Natural Disasters, such as floods, bush fires, weather disturbances and earthquakes
  • Physical Violence, active shooters, civil disturbance, security threats and terrorism.


How can schools maximise safety for these scenarios?

  • Develop strong emergency procedures

It’s essential that school emergency policies are well planned out, even down to the smallest details for each unique type of risk or threat. Nothing should be left to chance and there is not much room for error. Here are some important things to consider when planning your school emergency procedures: 

  • Each school’s emergency plan should be monitored, and from time to time, reviewed to ensure that they still meet the layout of the school. New risks should be identified and planned for as they emerge. 
  • Evacuation diagrams must be implemented throughout the school. These must be highly accessible and displayed in clear and visible positions across different locations. They should also show the location of evacuation and meeting points, based on different locations within the campus area. 
  • Schools should work with their local fire departments to determine an appropriate emergency management plan when planning for fire emergencies. 
  • Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) should be created for individuals with special needs and requirements. 


  • Ensure students and staff are trained well

Many schools make the mistake of relying on teachers and staff alone when faced with an emergency. Don’t forget that there are more students than staff on most campuses, which is why effective evacuation training of students is make or break. Plus, there are additional benefits to training students up in evacuation protocol. For example, teaching young people to respond in an emergency can help set them up for life, imparting them with valuable skills that could help them evacuate safely from any future emergency scenarios. 

Training for staff should involve the basics of first aid and how to operate fire equipment. Students should be extremely well versed in the evacuation plan, and how to react in an emergency. Don’t forget: training shouldn’t be viewed as a once off occurrence. Rather, it should be an ongoing process, which will take lots of refreshing over time to reinstill and reinforce skills, procedures and actions. 

  • Undergo regular emergency drills

Students often complain that emergency drills are repetitive, while some teachers may argue that they are disruptive to learning. At the end of the day, a little bit of disruption is worth it if it means students and staff are better-prepared in a real emergency. 

There’s strong reasons why drills are and always have been best practice for improving emergency preparedness in schools. Not only do drills act as a training measure, helping familiarise students and staff with emergency procedures, but they are also proven to dramatically improve response and coordination, helping staff clarify which roles and responsibilities belong to who. Drills also help you test out your procedures, revealing any weaknesses or issues, while improving your  preparedness should a real-life emergency occur. 


Further resources


Not sure your emergency evacuation plan is up to scratch? Fire Block Plans is here to help you and your team. Our highly-qualified experts will help find a suitable emergency evacuation plan, no matter how unique your requirements may be. Contact us today for more information.