Preparing your school for Hurricane Sandy

The northeast may very well experience another repeat of last year; have a freak storm around Halloween. While throwing kids into non-trick-or-treating mode is not favored (almost a crisis in of itself) , the community needs to prepare for the safety of its’ residents. Often, schools are staging areas, meal centers or even shelters.

A school leader needs to think ahead and prepare for your building to possibly make a safe, efficient transition so that it will be beneficial to those who need it. Before you begin, I advise you to bookmark the following websites on your phone and follow the following on Twitter:

ready.gov — emergency prepardness

hurricane Sandy updates – national hurricane center

Emergency Prepardness guide from FEMA/ NJ State Police

NJ OEM — real time updates from NJSP and OEM

Follow on Twitter: @RedCross , @twc_hurricane , @fema , @njoem2010 , @njsp (search and see if your town / county has a twitter, as well)

Next, gather your crisis team, brief the team on the potential emergency (in this case, Hurricane Sandy), and how this will effect your community and your building. Remind members of the team to review building plans, review their emergency books, and ensure that each room is prepared with flashlights and their jump-kits / emergency supplies.

If your cafeteria manager isn’t on your crisis team, seek her/him out and ensure that your emergency water and food are accessible.

You should also reach out to the police officer who is your school liaison so you can see what may become of your school in this emergency. For example, your police / OEM liaison may know that the gym will have cots or food staged in it; in that case you may want your gym teachers to take down nets or put away materials.

School staff should be unplugging everything in their classrooms and locking up any items that are of value; no disrespect to your community members, but things have a tendency to walk when lots of outsiders come into a building.

Lastly, before leaving school, put all of the materials you or the emergency personnel may need in the main office or another central location. Your police department will have a key to access it.

Hopefully, none of this will go into play, but if it does, you’re ready to go.

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