6 Tips for Natural Disaster Planning for Schools

Ensuring your school’s emergency plans cover natural disasters — no matter where you live — is vital to mitigating damage and loss of life.

History is riddled with the tragic stories of cities, communities, organizations, and complexes that experienced devastation wrought by a natural disaster of some kind. In many (or even most) of these instances, those entities experienced damage and destruction that could have been avoided or at least lessened if they had put an effective emergency plan in place. That’s the nature of emergency plans — if you wait until a disaster proves that an emergency plan was necessary, it’s too late.

Therefore, it’s never too early to put thorough emergency preparations in place for your campus or organization. If you don’t already have a complete emergency operations plan finalized and effectively communicated to your campus and stakeholders, or if you’re not sure whether yours would be effective in a natural disaster emergency, it’s time to evaluate your campus’s current emergency response strategy.

The Process of Creating an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)Emergency plans vary extremely widely based on a number of different characteristics. With greater complexity and more stakeholders comes more contingencies and moving parts to consider. For this reason, it’s very important that your emergency plan creation process addresses the many different factors that would come into play in the event of an actual emergency or natural disaster.

There are a number of lenses that should be utilized in turn when drafting an emergency plan to make sure you are considering all complications as much as you possibly can. Considerations will be different for hospitals than they would be for schools. Your geographical location, surrounding community type, availability of external support services, campus size and layout, technological components and related considerations, the range of staff types you have available to you, number of implicated stakeholders, communication channels of choice, and many more factors all must be considered when creating an EOP for your organization or campus. We’ll explore a few of those filters in more detail here.

It’s also important to note: Don’t put any of these considerations too far out of reach after you’ve scrutinized them once. An EOP is an evolving, complex set of protocols. As you adjust and refine it from each vantage point, be aware that you should revisit previous considerations as you advance to make sure a change made to accommodate one perspective didn’t disrupt another or present a problem elsewhere.

Thinking Through Potential Natural Disasters That Could OccurTo create an effective EOP that will mitigate potential damage due to a natural disaster, it’s obviously important to have a concrete idea of what natural disasters are possible and likely. It’s important to distinguish between natural happenings that are expected in your area or at least not entirely out of the realm of possibility in an average year, and those that would fit squarely in the category of “natural disasters.” Even in the realm of emergency preparations when it’s imperative to “expect the unexpected,” it’s a good idea to consider the types of disasters more likely to befall your area. If your campus is located in a mountainous area, make sure you have a solid avalanche or heavy snowfall plan in place. A hurricane response protocol isn’t nearly as pressing. And obviously, if you’re located in a temperate coastal area, your priorities should understandably be the opposite.

To do this effectively, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You may be able to find examples of EOPs for similar (or similarly located) organizations to yours that can provide excellent context and ideas for creating your own. They may be published on the internet, accessible in library archives, or available through professional associations or partnerships. Learning from other organizations and examples of EOPs can provide excellent context and ideas for when you create your own.

Looking at a few different versions can also give you a feel for what is standard practice, and what creative additions or adaptations might be helpful or applicable in your particular context. Though this practice can help inform any part of your EOP, it can be especially important for the process of making sure you’re covering all the natural disaster types your area might see.

Cataloging Your Stakeholders, Assets and InfrastructureCreating an effective EOP first requires an intimate understanding of your moving pieces – the people and property you’re responsible for keeping safe, the assets and resources you have available to work with, and the nature of the infrastructure available both on your own campus and in surrounding areas. University students, on average, would be quite mobile and independent. Nursing home residents, on the other hand, would not.

An EOP at a university campus would need to look very different from that of a senior living facility. A wildfire would affect a complex that is primarily wood-built very differently than it would affect a complex built primarily of concrete or stone.

For most EOPs, this step should involve completing a write-up of some kind that includes these details about your campus in a document. How many people engage with your facility? What are their use patterns and reasons for being there? Does your campus include residences (e.g. college dorm buildings)? Where do people congregate? How are spaces distributed and controlled? What security protocol does access entail? How do people arrive at your campus?

It’s important to organize these kinds of details in a manner that allows a response crew or someone managing a disaster response to quickly find and know what they need to know in order to respond most effectively. Detail as much as you can and organize it intuitively with clear sections and headings for quick digestion. Having this kind of information detailed and organized can sometimes mean the difference between lives saved and lost — between tragedy avoided or befallen.

Communication Channels for Disseminating Your Emergency Response InformationAn EOP does no one any good if it sits in a desk drawer and is never seen by any of the individuals on a campus where a natural disaster may someday strike. They must be effectively shared with the right decision-makers and posted, taught, and disseminated in such a way that when something happens, people on campus know how to respond. This can be broken into three categories.

Before an emergency is when the work of not only designing but communicating an EOP is the most important. There are plenty of strategies and best practice ideas out there to help you get started with communicating an EOP to your campus and stakeholders. Choosing your tactics for getting the word out should be influenced by your population, the type of campus, how traffic and use patterns flow through the facility, and more.

During an emergency you may or may not have time or ability to communicate with your stakeholders. This is something that should be thought through as you design your EOP and something you take extra measures to preserve and facilitate in the event of a disaster. What communication methods will be available during a natural disaster? Which might be compromised? What might need to be installed or made available in case conventional communication channels are knocked out?

After an emergency, communication channels might be damaged or unavailable for one reason or another. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it’s important to give thought to how effective response, rescue, and cleanup efforts can take place if communication frameworks or abilities are compromised.

Practice Makes Perfect: Conducting Drills, Walkthroughs and ScenariosOnce an EOP has been designed, it can do infinitely better for the individuals on a campus if it is rehearsed and regularly engaged with so as to make it familiar and even second nature in the event of an actual emergency. Basketball coaches don’t expect that assigning their players a book or handout will be adequate to help them perform perfect offense or defense. While that coach must deliver content first (just like teaching a drill before the team tries it), to actually prepare adequately and be able to perform a desired action requires practice.

EOPs should always include some element of drill or practice to make sure they are actually implemented in the event of a natural disaster. This may look like a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly initiative depending on the needs of your campus. However it fits best, make sure that the schedule you implement for practicing your EOP is adequate to prepare your campus for a true emergency.

Continue Learning and RefiningOnce you complete an EOP and have it signed off by your campus decision-makers, the work isn’t done. It’s important to regularly revisit your EOP to make sure it stays up to date and in line with best practices. Your campus will develop and change.

Your personnel may shift over time; your assets will change; and the industry will learn. It’s important to continue improving your EOP and your dissemination strategy. It can always be better. And prioritizing strong EOP and EOP management practices could be the difference between preparedness and disaster.

EOPs should always include some element of drill or practice to make sure they are actually implemented in the event of a natural disaster. This may look like a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly initiative depending on the needs of your campus. However it fits best, make sure that the schedule you implement for practicing your EOP is adequate to prepare your campus for a true emergency.

Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education.

Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety.

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Teachers’ Day 2023 Speech: Mastering the art of speaking at morning assembly

— Ridhima Somaiya

Teachers’ Day 2023 Speech Ideas: The morning assembly is more than just a routine gathering; it’s a platform where students can unite, get informed, and feel motivated to kick-start their day. Delivering a compelling morning assembly speech isn’t just about speaking confidently – it’s about developing a sense of community and school spirit, especially when the event is Teachers’ Day.

While the responsibility of addressing your peers during the morning assembly might seem daunting, it is an opportunity for personal growth and making a positive impact.

By following these tips and tricks, you can transform your nervousness into confidence and turn your Teachers’ Day speech into a memorable moment that resonates with everyone present.

Teachers’ Day: Create a routineA morning assembly reminds students of the values they share with the larger school community. Create a routine of starting with a school chant, a prayer to show gratitude, an anecdote to motivate and some quotes related to Teachers’ Day. Wrapping it up with a school cheer will foster a sense of pride and motivate students to help reach the common goal of the institution.

Prepare a clear and structured Teachers’ Day speechConsider the purpose of your speech and make a note of the important points you are going to mention. Are you announcing an event, sharing an inspiring message, or discussing a relevant theme? A well-structured speech is key to keeping your audience engaged. Begin with a captivating opening that hooks your listeners. This could be an intriguing fact, a thought-provoking quote on Teachers’ Day, or a relatable anecdote.

Follow up with the main points you want to convey. Each point should flow logically to the next, creating a seamless narrative.

Finally, conclude your speech with a powerful closing that reinforces your message. Remember to prioritise the most important points you want to make. Avoid unnecessary tangents or excessive details that might dilute the impact of your speech.

Writing with clarity and correct grammarA good understanding of the language is important as it enables you to write clearly and concisely, which is the key to effective communication. Avoid the use of complex sentences. Make sure you proofread your speech to identify and correct any grammar error.

Focus on messagingA morning assembly is an opportunity to set a positive tone for the day. Your Teachers’ Day speech should carry messages that inspire positivity and progress. Encourage your audience to contribute positively to the school community and beyond.

Talking about important topics such as respecting differences, mental health and reinforcing values can energise and encourage them to start their day with optimism.

To make your speech relevant and relatable, connect it with current instances, news updates or events. For instance, a recent achievement by one of the teachers, how that teacher helped students and more.

Now, when your speech is ready, make sure to prepare how to deliver it well

Eye contact and body language play a very important role. Your nonverbal communication plays a crucial role in how your speech is received. Maintain eye contact with your audience, conveying a sense of connection and confidence.

Use appropriate gestures and facial expressions to emphasise key points. Stand tall with open body language, projecting confidence and credibility. Rehearse your speech multiple times. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself to refine delivery and boost confidence.

In conclusion, preparing a morning assembly speech for Teachers’ Day is an art that involves combining effective communication, relevant content, and engaging delivery. If you plan well, you can create a speech that leaves a lasting impression in just a few minutes. Remember that your words have the potential to inspire and influence, so make the most of your morning assembly opportunity to contribute positively to your school community.

(The writer is a senior teacher at British Council India)

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