Schools today routinely hold drills to prepare students for situations that would place them in danger during school hours. What are they learning?
Schools have practiced safety drills for many years to prepare students for the likelihood of a fire or dangerous weather. Administrators encouraged students to go home and plan at home for fire safety and storm safety.
Now schools drill and teach children and young adults to take protective actions in case of a school “intruder” (term used with elementary students), or “active shooter” (term used with secondary students).
School personnel are trained to prepare students for drills, to provide them with knowledge and skills on how to respond in an emergency without increasing their anxieties and fears. Students who have skills and have practiced them will have a much better chance to stay safe in a real life-threatening situation.
As a school administrator, when we first initiated these drills to shelter in place, lockdown or evacuate, we sent home information to parents to alert them. That gave parents a chance to talk to their child and see what they learned.
Now, those “Shelter in Place” drills are routine and parents are seldom notified unless there was a potential threat and the actions were taken as a precaution for student safety.
What are they taught to do in an emergency? Ask you child how they might apply this skill to an emergency at home or out in a public event or shopping center. Why?
The same skills taught at school have been demonstrated to save lives at home and out in public situations.
Here are some basic questions to ask and discuss at home or when you are out in public.
Where is your closest exit?
Where could you hide if you could not get out?
Where is the closest fire extinguisher?
Do you know what an AED is?
Look for an AED box on wall or signs directing you to it.
Stranger comes to your door, at home, what will you do?
Stranger approaches you and starts talking to you in a parking lot. What will you do?
Both in your home and car, lock your doors if you are alone.
Most importantly - always know where you are! If you have to call 911 for help be ready to tell them exactly where you are.
Ellen Mooney is a recently retired principal and teacher with more than 45 years of experience in K-12 education.