The best strategy to improve school safety is to be familiar with lockdown procedures. Events like the Columbine and the Sandy Hook shooting have taught us that, unfortunately, school shootings are becoming more common as the years go on. Understanding the right procedures and security measures can make a difference between life and death for your staff and students.
An emergency lockdown happens when there is danger, and faculty and staff need to ensure the safety of their students by acting quickly and efficiently. It’s crucial that all staff members be trained and educated on how to handle emergencies in dangerous situations.
Why Should Schools be Better Prepared?
In the last couple of years alone, the United States has seen an uptick in the purchasing of guns and mass shootings. The gun violence archive has counted over 300 mass shootings this year, painting a scary picture for the months to come. To help create more situational awareness, schools should take extra precautions if an emergency ever arrives at the school’s doorstep. These include extra security measures like lockdown doors, knowing how to spot a potential threat, and adding additional lockdown procedures.
There are multiple different events to be prepared for. The types of emergencies that require extra lockdown procedures include:
- Active shooter or mass shooting
- Hostage holding
- Protests and riots
- Natural disasters
Now that you know what kind of events require extra precaution, here are a few tips to consider to better prepare you for an emergency.
Know the Layout of your School
While this seems self-explanatory, you would be surprised at how many faculty members do not know the full layout and available exits in their school. Teachers and staff should be aware of all classrooms, room numbers, hallways, and exits within the school. Knowing this information will be crucial to making decisions and communicating during a hostile situation.
Plan How to Barricade your Classroom
Assess the environment of your classroom and plan how you would barricade and lock the doors. Arrange furniture, your desk, and the students seating in strategic ways in the room. Planning how to handle a true lockdown beforehand will ensure better protection and preparation for your students while in the classroom.
Utilize Alternative Evacuation
In the instance that there is an active shooter in the hallways, or the doors are barricaded, understand how to utilize the windows for evacuation purposes. This depends on whether it is safe enough to climb out the windows in an emergency. Practice opening the windows in your classroom so that you are prepared if you ever need to use them as an evacuation tactic. If your classroom windows do not open, you may have to break the window if necessary.
What to do if a Lockdown is Issued
Utilizing the above tips could help make an attack harder when you are better prepared for it. Each school may have a different set of lockdown procedures to know. However, below are the most common lockdown procedures all faculty, staff, and students should abide by.
- Lock the doors and windows
- Turn off the lights and close the blinds
- Instruct the students to stay quiet and away from any doors and windows
- Silence all technology like computers and phones
- Count every student in the room
- Wait until further instruction
General Sequence of Events during a Lockdown
Each lockdown is unique based on the circumstance. However, a lockdown is typically the same sequence of events, meaning it’s more than possible to prepare as best you can for any situation. The first thing that will happen is the sounding of an alarm. An alarm is set off to immediately notify the staff of an intruder or a natural disaster. This is the first step in the lockdown procedure, and upon hearing this signal, faculty and staff should prepare accordingly.
The second step is to commence the lockdown procedures for the specific disaster. This is where teachers lock the doors to their classrooms and get the students away from the doors and windows. Someone will call 911, where the police should arrive, and implement further instructions on how to proceed. During the lockdown, teachers should maintain a secure classroom. Teachers should keep the students in a safe area away from the doors and windows, and should not open them under any circumstance unless told to do so. Teachers should also take a head count of their students, and if any are missing, notify someone immediately.
After the event has passed means it is the end of the lockdown and is safe for teachers and students to come out of their classrooms. The school principal should also notify the parents of the students if the parents do not already know.
Teachers should constantly be prepared for a lockdown, and practice these drills with their students. The more everyone is prepared, the safer the environment is in case of a tragedy.