Disasters tend to spring up unannounced. In fact, by their very definition, crises are situations that are unexpected or unwanted. But just because you aren't expecting a disaster doesn't mean you have to be unprepared.
Planning for unexpected situations is essential, but proper disaster management is a multi-stage process. In general, disaster response can be approached in three stages: planning, response and recovery. Administrators should take this into account when formulating plans to prepare their schools for unforeseen circumstances.
Knowing what's out there
To be able to adequately prepare for a crisis, you must first know what sorts of situations could potentially arise. Disasters natural and otherwise can take many forms, and each is different from the rest. Knowing how the dangers posed by fire differ from those posed by a flood or even an active shooter can help you plan more effective response strategies.
A report from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters revealed that natural disasters can disrupt the lives of around 230 million people every year. Not only do these events cause property damage and endanger the lives of staff and students, but they also disrupt educational opportunities for children, as damaged schools obviously can't house students. While it may not be possible to prevent the damage done by disasters, with planning and preparation you can minimize it.
Steps to take
Disaster planning is a process of managing assets, the most important of which are the occupants of your school. As a report from the University of California, Santa Barbara pointed out, many disasters commonly lead to the need for relocation and evacuation.
Thus, one of the first and most important steps to be taken in planning for the worst is to have clearly established routes to vacate the school, as well as a plan to gather students and teachers and safely move them to a predetermined location. Of course, not all circumstances will require or allow for a full evacuation, so you should also have a contingency in place if you need to hunker down. This means that you need to be on top of your inventory to ensure there are enough emergency supplies on hand - including food, flashlights and radios. Keeping up with corrective maintenance is also important, as schools must be able to withstand whatever disasters may strike.
Communication is one of the most important parts of disaster preparedness. Once response plans are in place, they must be shared with all faculty and even parents. Fortunately, smartphones offer a significant advantage for sharing and even updating safety data in real time, and such mobile solutions should be seriously explored by administrators.