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How Printed Materials Can Help with Effective Disaster & Emergency Planning at Your School

All schools should have an emergency plan. This helps ensure you’re as prepared as possible for incidents ranging from an injury to a pupil, to a fire, extreme weather, public health incident, criminal or terrorist threat, or a disaster in the local community. And when you’re putting together these emergency plans, there are ways in which printed materials can play a vital role.

If you’ve recently taken our quiz, you’ll now have a sense of whether your school is ready for perhaps the most unlikely emergency of all – an alien invasion. Whilst the chances of extra-terrestrials attacking your school are slim, there are many other potential threats and incidents that may also seem remote. Never the less, these warrant proper planning to ensure you’re prepared just in case. 

Broadly speaking, the main elements of emergency preparedness for a school are:

  • Risk assessment
  • Planning
  • Awareness-building and drills

In the event of a disaster or emergency incident occurring, the following steps would be required: 

  • Response
  • Recovery
  • Reflection and improvement 

In this post, we’ve collated some tips for planning and awareness-building using printed materials. This will help ensure that school leaders, teachers and pupils have the right information, at the right time, and in the right place, in the event of an emergency. (If you’re looking for a more thorough guide to disaster planning, we’ve highlighted some useful further reading at the end of this article.)

Key Printed Resources for School Emergency Planning

There are a range of printed resources that could prove invaluable if an emergency occurs. 

Once your disaster plan is complete, you should:

  • Print hard copies of the plan in ring-bound folders, allowing you to update single sections or pages as needed
  • Print and distribute a one-page summary of the plan on a single sheet of paper

To help with evacuation, in the event of a fire, for instance, you will need to display printed maps of the site, with clearly marked exit points, at strategic locations around the school. Maps or signposts can also help direct people to safe places in the event of a criminal incident or bomb threat, for example. 

Not all emergency responses will involve an evacuation or the need to find shelter, however. To help deal with any injuries or medical emergencies, make sure you have a printed list naming the designated first aiders on site, and make sure that first aid equipment is well-labelled and signposted. In addition, contact information and directions to the nearest hospital and police station should be printed and made easily accessible. 

Finally, the locations of key equipment, such as ladders and fire extinguishers, should be documented and printed, and these items should be clearly labelled and signposted. 

Building Awareness with Posters and Leaflets

Awareness is, according to some experts, “the basic tool for disaster preparedness”. And getting children involved in emergency planning means they’ll be better placed to help in any future post-disaster scenario. 

Dating back to the Cold War and beyond, posters have been an important part of children’s education around disaster preparedness.

image showing food allergy comic in article about disaster planning for schools using printed materials

And the French Government made the news in 2016 after producing a series of posters telling people what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. 

image showing french government comic in article about disaster planning for schools using printed materials

In the school setting, there’s a great opportunity to get pupils involved in designing posters and visual information themselves. The best ones can then be copied, printed and displayed in relevant locations around the school.

There may even be an opportunity to integrate awareness-building into the curriculum – this is often done very successfully in developing nations, but also in places like Michigan, where according to the Michigan Department of Community Health: 

“The curriculum presents disaster preparedness skills in a positive way—encouraging children to prevent dangerous situations, stay safe, and become resilient following a disaster. 
“Lesson plans address common hazards that children may experience at school or home, including a power outage, flooding, severe weather, communicable disease, and violence.”

We’d love to hear from you about how your school has incorporated disaster planning into lessons, or how you’ve involved pupils in awareness-building exercises! You can find us on Facebook @BrotherPrintersUK.