Preparing for an Earthquake at School

While earthquakes may not immediately come to mind when considering danger at school, it’s vital to have a plan to limit structural damage and keep students and staff safe during a quake. Preparing now will reduce the odds of a tragic outcome.

Securing Buildings

Earthquake safety at school begins with the buildings themselves. Obviously, the school should comply with building codes, but you may wish to go further. An evaluation by an engineer will show you which areas need the most improvement. You can make some changes (such as reinforcing light fixtures and relocating bookcases and other heavy items to the ground floor) immediately, while others will require professional work.

Protecting People

Students and staff need to know how to stay safe in an earthquake. Hold training sessions and drills at least once a year and consider providing handouts or posters illustrating the basic “drop, cover, and hold on” strategy. Make sure to address common myths (such as the advice to stand in a doorway) during the training, and include an evacuation plan for after the shaking stops.

An earthquake at school has the potential to be devasting, so it’s critical to make a plan and take steps to limit structural damage and keep everyone safe before the ground starts shaking.