Natural disaster and weather related preparedness
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Natural Disaster and Weather-Related Preparedness

What to Plan For

This material was produced under grant number SH-17035-08-60-F-11 from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. These materials do not necessarily reflect views or policies of the U.S. Department of Labor, nor does mention of any trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Preparedness is Still Preparedness

  • Still need:

    • ICS/Chain of Command

    • Warning communications - including non-electric means

    • Plans for alternate locations

    • Accommodations for special needs staff and students

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LIGHTNING: The Underrated Weather Hazard!

  • #2 Storm Killer In U.S.

    • Kills more than tornadoes and hurricanes combined

    • Can strike as much as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm

    • If you can hear thunder, you’re within striking distance!

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High Risk Areas at School

  • Open Fields (45%)

    • Sports Fields

    • Playgrounds

    • Recess Outdoors

    • Marching Band

    • Extra Concerns:

      • Metal Bleachers

      • Long Metal Fences

      • Playground Equipment

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  • Most common natural disaster in the United States

    • Tropical storms

    • Flash flooding

    • Overland flooding

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  • Form in the eastern Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, or the southern Atlantic Ocean.

  • The storms center is about 20 to 30 miles wide.

  • The storm around the eye can extend outward 400 miles with winds in excess of 74 mph.

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  • An average of five land on the U.S. coastline every 3 years.

  • Coastal population of the United States will double between 1995 and 2010. 

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  • Most frequent in the United States:

    • 1,200 tornadoes

    • 70 fatalities

    • 1,500 injuries

  • Can occur at any time of the year

    • Most often times: Between 3:00 P.M and 9:00 P.M.

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Main Problems for Schools in a Tornado:

  • Forces caused by winds and the airflow around the building.

  • Forces caused by other objects (debris) impacting school walls.

    • "Wind Tunnel Effect”

    • Gas leaks, chemical exposures, and electrical hazards after the storm.

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Planning is Key

Schools need to develop a good tornado safety plan tailored to building design and ability to move people.

Path of destruction can be more than one mile wide and 50 miles long and can devastate a neighborhood in seconds.

You may have little warning, so preparation and planning are key to reducing injuries.

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  • Blinding wind-driven snow

  • Extreme cold

  • Icy Roads

  • Downed trees/power lines

  • Limited access to emergency and medical services

  • Communications disruptive

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Severe Weather Checklist

  • Have provisions been made for the following problem areas:

    • Mobile classrooms away from the main building and disconnected from an intercom system.

    • People in cafeteria or gymnasium during the storm.

    • Students/staff with disabilities who may be in a position to either not hear the warning or be able to respond to it on their own accord.

    • Students who are outside, including after-school activities.

Who is responsible for activating the plan? Is there a back-up person?

What is/are the primary means of receiving severe weather information?  NOAA Weather Radio with an alert feature is recommended!

What method employed to alert teachers and students?  Is there a back-up that does not require electricity?

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General Safeguards

  • Have safe areas and/or shelters in each school building been identified?

  • How are staff and students accounted for?

  • Have staff and students been trained in emergency procedures for each type of potential situation?

  • Have drills been practiced?

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  • Each year 12,000-14,000 earthquakes are reported

  • Forty-five states and U.S. territories are at moderate to high risk for earthquakes.

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Being Prepared with a Good Plan is Essential in Natural Disaster Situations

Let’s Look At What’s in Your Plans ….