Fire safety is important and should be taken seriously in an academic environment, especially if little kids and teenagers are around. While most schools in the US and other parts of the world carry out fire safety drill periodically, it is likely that nothing else is done to improve the fire prevention system present or to actively prevent fires from occurring.
If you are a school director, you are responsible for the safety of your staffs and students. This includes knowing how to react in the event of an emergency and making sure that everyone has a firm grasp of school fire safety.
Even if you have solid fire prevention and evacuation plan in place, it is important that you review from time to time to ensure that it is comprehensive and up to date. It is also a good idea to take a close look at established policies from a new perspective.
In this article, we are going to be looking at why fire safety is important and should be taken seriously in the school environment and some fire safety tips for schools.
Why fire safety is important in schools
School fire safety is of critical importance for one obvious reason -tens or hundreds of kids are present and a fire, irrespective of its size can be very disastrous. As you know, most of the furniture in a classroom such as desks, chairs, and tables are made from combustible materials like wood or plastic. The chemistry laboratory is a high-fire risk zone, as it contains large quantities of flammable liquids. A fire in such a place can easily go out of control and cause large scale damage within minutes. And even worse, claim the precious lives of students. Another high risk but often ignored area is the canteen, as there may be large containers of LPG and other combustible materials that can easily start a fire.
Fire safety tips for schools
While no two schools are exactly the same, steps can be taken and plans can be made to make them safer. As a school director, it is your responsibility to develop a comprehensive fire safety plan that will suit the needs of your campus. Below are some effective tips you can incorporate into your fire safety program.
Clear access to Exits and alarms
This is an important job that can easily be taken care of by staffs and teachers. They need to ensure that fire exits, alarm stations and stairways are clear at every time of the day. Doing this will make it easier for students to exit to safety without any hindrance in the event of an emergency.
Review and Update your fire prevention policies
Regardless of how solid or concrete your fire prevention and control plan may be, it may have some loopholes or blind spots that you may not be seeing at the moment. Fire prevention is an ongoing process that should be updated and reviewed on a regular basis. Keep in mind that you and your staffs don’t have to create a fire prevention plan and teach your students about fire safety all the time. Reach out to the local fire department in your area, as they offer educational programs for campuses or schools. Even more, they can help refine your fire prevention policies.
Empower your students
Make your students understand why it is important to practice fire safety at all times. Don’t forget to tell them how much you appreciate them following the rules, behaving properly, and helping their classmates. When your students know that they are learning something that can potentially serve them in college, they will take pride in being part of the school fire prevention and safety program.
A buddy system is great for helping kids with special needs. Identify kids with special needs in each classroom and set up a buddy system to support these children who may need extra help during a fire emergency and during practice drills.
Make familiarity a requirement
Make sure your staffs clearly understand your school fire safety plans and systems. When everyone has a firm grasp on how security lighting, sprinklers, and alarms are working, it will be easy for them to spot a problem or an irregularity before it gets out of hand.
Post clear maps in every classroom that shows two or more escape routes in the event of a fire. Clearly explain to students that stairways and hallways need to be free from obstructions at all times. Don’t hesitate to ask your students to help back -up the efforts of your staffs to keep evacuation routes free from obstruction and safe.
Order over excitement
As you probably know, children usually get overly excited during a fire drill. Make it clear to them that their safety depends on how well they follow the rules and how orderly they are. Carefully explain to them why they need to stay with the group and keep their place in line. Teach them to remain calm during fire safety drills so that they won’t be frightened in the event of a real emergency.
Designate a safe area outside the school building as a safe zone everybody can run to when there is a fire. The safe zone should be a good distance away from the building and should be accessible.
Teachers should take a head count of everybody in the safe zone to see if everybody is present. To ensure that the headcount is accurate, teachers should have a list of all the students in their class. Do well to make students understand that they should never go back to the building to collect anything until they are given the all-clear.
Practice fire safety drill often
Irrespective of how solid your fire safety plan and prevention plan is or how well you teach fire safety, lesson need to be reinforced with constant practice. Hold fire drill at least once a month so that every student becomes familiar with following escape routes and getting organized for evacuation.
Shake up the routine from time to time
Hold unscheduled fire drills at different times of the day, a couple of times a semester. This is likely going to give staffs an opportunity to narrow down the loopholes and help kids learn to stay calm in the event of a fire emergency.
Make use of online resources
Figuring out how to teach little kids about fire safety can be challenging and frustrating, as they may not fully grasp the damage it can cause. Instead of racking and cudgelling your brain trying to figure the best way to teach your students about fire safety, make use of online tools and website (FireSafeKids.org) that have fun games and activities that can help kids learn about fire safety while having fun.
Fire safety is paramount in any academic institution, especially for little kids. While fire drills are important, they aren’t enough to mitigate the risk of a fire in the school environment. This makes it critical for school directors to go the extra mile, by installing high tech fire detection devices, regularly evaluating escape routes and safe zone, and shake things up from time to time. Of course, doing this might be difficult and expensive, to say the least. But it will go a long way in reducing the odds of a fire starting in the school environment.
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