How prepared is your child’s school for disasters?

Photo: Lisa Apt/
You’ve bought your kids their supplies, shown them how to ride the bus and even managed to get them out of bed. But there’s one more thing to think about now that school’s back in session: Emergency preparedness. Being prepared is important no matter where you are, so how can you be sure your child’s school is ready?

Most schools have some sort of emergency preparedness policies, either by regulation or choice. But they can vary from school to school. To really know what’s going on, call your child’s school leaders and check in.

Here are five preparedness questions you can use to get the conversation started.

  1. What steps are in place in case of disasters? Most schools have plans ready for disasters and community problems. Get a copy and find out where your child will be in case of an emergency. Ask about fire drills and other lessons.
  2. What can I do to get my child ready? Ask about vaccination requirements as your child ages and make sure your children are up to date on their vaccinations. Also, make sure your child knows her or his address, the full names of parents or guardians as well as important phone numbers. It’s also a good idea to designate another trusted emergency contact for your child in case you’re unavailable.
  3. Where can I get information about the school during an emergency? Extreme weather or emergencies can close schools or send students home early. Ask how you’ll be notified and how you can be ready if schedules change.
  4. If a serious emergency occurs, is there a place for children to shelter-in-place? Is there a stockpile of food, water and medical supplies? Schools should be able to provide for students’ basic needs during emergencies.
  5. After an emergency, what support is offered to students? Emergencies can be hard on students, even if no one is hurt. Ask about how students are supported afterward in terms of academics, mental health and more.

Making sure your child’s school is ready for emergencies is an important part of back-to-school season. With a few questions, you can take an active role in making sure your children will be safe while they learn.

For more information on how to get ready for disasters, check out our school preparedness fact sheet.

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