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School Water Damage Preparedness and Education
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
By definition, emergency preparedness is all about planning and making decisions ahead of time with regards to dealing with emergency situations. Delegating specific responsibilities, identifying sources of supplies/equipment commonly used during emergencies and ensuring 24/7 access to them as well as having correct emergency contact information, including that of an emergency water extraction team, are all essential parts of a school's disaster preparedness plan.
Because no school is exactly alike, there is no single emergency preparedness plan that can be followed entirely by all schools. Before any plans can be made, it is necessary to determine two variables – the potential hazards to your school and the weaknesses of the school building. Once these are identified, then the information can be used to establish a preparedness plan.
Preparing a Plan
Here is a basic framework of a preparedness plan that would be very useful during a water damage event:
- Information about the School Building – this includes a street map of the school's neighborhood and photos (aerial and ground) of the campus; the entrances to the school grounds should also be indicated as well as where major utility lines run, the location of major school buildings, staging areas for authorities and emergency personnel, pickup areas for students, and possible evacuation sites outside campus and at least two evacuation routes.
- Procedures for Shutting Down Utility Lines – the school administrative staff should know how to turn off the school's main water, electric and gas lines.
- Procedures for Operating Fire Alarm Systems – the school administrative staff should know how to switch on and off the school's fire alarm and sprinkler systems.
- Locating First Aid Supplies and Emergency Tools – these items must be easily accessible and their location clearly identified in school floor plans.
- Contact Information of Emergency Responders – the plan should include a list of the names and contact information of individuals within and outside the school who can immediately respond to a water damage emergency.
Education is crucial in any preparedness efforts. The water disaster response team should be aware of restoration options. Oftentimes, wet materials are simply discarded because they are thought to be unsalvageable. The team should also be trained on the proper handling of water-damaged items to prevent further or permanent damage.
Other Ways to Prepare for Water Damage in Schools
Moreover, the school should implement periodic drills of the preparedness plan and make sure families of students are aware of it. Practice drills teach staff and students what to do during emergencies and at the same time allow school administrators to review the effectiveness of the plan.
In terms of mitigating hazards, schools located in areas that are prone to severe weather should take it upon themselves to learn how to alleviate the stress of such natural occurrences on their school buildings. Understanding the natural hazards that exist locally, looking at potential sources of water problems, and maintaining school grounds and facilities regularly can spell the difference between minor damage and total wreck.
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