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About Us News Does Your School Have a Disaster Plan?

Does Your School Have a Disaster Plan?


As an educational professional, it’s essential to ensure the safety and well-being of your students, staff and facilities. But in an unpredictable world where disasters can strike at any moment, how prepared are your schools to handle emergencies? From natural disasters, like earthquakes and hurricanes, to human-made incidents, such as accidents, the need for robust disaster planning in schools has never been more critical. 

In this blog, we'll explore the importance of preparedness, the essential components of a comprehensive plan and practical steps schools can take to ensure the safety of their students, staff and the wider community. 

Understanding a School’s Need for a Disaster Plan

Just like any other property, educational facilities need to be prepared for unexpected disasters, whether in the form of a storm, accident or other emergency. Disasters can have a profound impact on your students, staff and the community in general, but having a recovery plan in place can help reduce the brunt of the damage. Additionally, it will allow people to return to “normal” more quickly. 

Beyond the surface-level reasons to develop a disaster plan, a school also faces a legal need for one. According to the Texas Education Agency, “Texas Education Code 37.108 (3) requires that district’s multi-hazard emergency operations plan provides for ‘measures to ensure coordination with the Department of State Health Services and local emergency management agencies, law enforcement, health departments and fire departments in the event of an emergency.’”

Developing an Effective School Disaster Plan

Conduct a Risk Assessment 

The first step in creating an effective school disaster plan is conducting a risk assessment and discovering what vulnerabilities your facility has. You can do this by yourself or with the help of a temporary support services company. Things to consider are whether your facility is at a high risk of flooding (consult a flood map to determine zone designation) and what storms and disasters are common in your area (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, etc.). It’s also important to take a look through history to see if your facility has endured a disaster in the past and what its particular vulnerabilities were. 

Find Emergency Providers 

Once you understand your particular risks, find a temporary support services provider who can supply essential resources should you lose access to them during a disaster. Look for one that offers a wide variety of services so you don’t have to work with multiple vendors during an already stressful time. Ensure your chosen partner can provide everything from emergency power services to temporary facilities, like mobile classroom rentals and portable bathroom trailers

You should also contact a restoration company to discuss potential preventive measures you can take to reduce the amount of damage to your facilities. 

Develop Emergency Communication Protocols 

It’s essential to designate an Emergency Response Team (ERT). In addition to engaging disaster recovery professionals and preparing the facility and its contents to best withstand the storm, these individuals will be responsible for letting your staff and students or their parents know about impending disasters and what actions your team is taking.

Ensure they are all on the same page about who will be contacting whom, as well as what forms (email, phone call, text, etc.) these communications will take. 

Train Your Team on Evacuation Procedures & Shelter-In-Place Protocols 

While it’s not always possible to evacuate before a storm, it’s important to have an evacuation policy in place so you can guarantee that your facility is as ready as it can be for an upcoming disaster. Make sure your evacuation policy outlines protocol for moving equipment, paperwork and other resources to a safe location, as well as who is responsible for doing so. 

In the event that you cannot evacuate, you’ll need shelter-in-place protocols to help your team and students stay safe. This should include regular response drills with your students so people know how to seek shelter during a storm. 

After the disaster, your ERT will contact employees, students and parents to let them know when it is safe to return to the facility for regularly scheduled classes. 

Resources and Tools for School Disaster Preparedness

While it may seem overwhelming to develop a disaster preparedness plan, there are a variety of resources out there to help. Here are a few to check out: 

The safety of your facilities, your team and your students is in your hands, so it’s time to develop a disaster plan, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating! If you need assistance in creating one for your school, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Cotton Logistics. Fill out a form to reach us, or give us a call at: (877) 427-2947.