School Security: Disaster Planning and Response

        Prepare Your School for Security and Disaster Threats


Though not all security threats can be avoided, some situations can be prevented with appropriate preparation. Due diligence is your responsibility; if you do not have sufficient security measures in place, you could be held liable for any vandalism, theft or student injury that occurs

     • Be sure to discuss applicable natural disaster coverage with your
     insurance representative.

     • Keep copies of insurance policies and other critical documents in a safe
     and accessible location (e.g. a fireproof safe).

     • Evaluate which disasters are most likely to occur in your area. Be sure
     you are prepared for all of the risks you identify.

     • If your school is part of a larger campus or district, you should have
     plans specific to your facility and then further procedures for collaborating
     with the larger entity.

     • Make sure your emergency response procedures are comprehensive and
     up to date. This may include evacuation, building lockdown, communication
     with authorities and/or parents, or other responses depending on the situation.

     • Conduct periodic drills that include your entire population of staff and
     students, so that everyone is familiar with emergency procedures. Include security
     and disaster response education in the curriculum. Parents should also be
     educated on the school’s security and disaster response procedures.

     • Determine which staff members are in charge in an emergency situation and
     establish a chain of command and reporting for easy communication within the
     building. You also need an established procedure for which district administrators
     and local authorities need to be contacted in each situation.

     • Have telephone call lists available (include cell phone and pager numbers)
     for all key personnel so staff members can be contacted during non-working hours
     from any location. You also should have parent or guardian contact information for
     each student. Review procedures for notifying staff and parents that your facility is
     closed. Remind all parties that they should never attempt to enter areas
     that are closed by police or other emergency responders.

     • Consider establishing an alternate method for your phone service if the
     switchboard becomes unusable (e.g. forwarding incoming calls to a cell phone or
     remote number).

     • Check available emergency supplies such as flashlights, batteries, emergency
     generators/fuel, patching materials such as plastic sheeting, wood 2x4s, duct
     tape, spare fire extinguishers, first aid kits, etc.

     • You also need to establish a recovery plan for coping after a disaster
     situation. This will include physical recovery of building functions and
     infrastructure, a plan for resuming school as soon as possible, and also
     emotional recovery for staff and/or students in some situations.

A natural disaster or security risk could happen in your school any day. It is imperative that you have a plan to handle these potential risks, both to ensure the safety of your students and staff and to avoid a financial crisis that could shut down your school. To prepare for the unexpected, you should review your security and disaster readiness plans to help you minimize the impact of any potentially threatening situation.

Keeping your building secure from outside criminals or unauthorized personnel is a paramount responsibility. Assess your facility’s current security features and determine where improvements should be made.