Day 32 (of 185) a fire alarm drill where we did not leave the building
October 20th is this years #shakeoutBC day – a time where we all take a minute to talk about what we do in case of an earthquake:
As I explain to students, it’s about knowing what to do even if you do not live in an active earthquake area, because people travel and our journeys often take us to areas that may experience earthquakes.
I also use it as a way to kick off awareness about our three main types of drills/alerts that we have at school:
Earthquake Drill (not likely, but good to practice)
Lockdown Drill (not too likely, but important to practice)
Fire Drills (very rare, but get the most amount of practice….though usually during nice weather….whereas the only fires I have had friends involved in have been in miserable weather where we learned two key things:
- ensure you are dressed for the elements (grab boots/coats because one of the school evacuations was in the winter as a fire was started by christmas lights on a door decoration….yep….and everyone got out fast, but very very very cold. Fire chief did his best to “clear” the gym asap to get everyone back to warmth, but also told us – while speed is important, ability to stay safe in the elements is equally important)
- drills need to be about more than just “how fast”. They need to identify some key issues because it is very unlikely that a real “alert” will be called when everyone is nicely sitting in a classroom with their outdoor shoes and coats on. Questions such as:
- can windows be blocked out?
- can doors be locked? unlocked?
- what if someone is in the bathroom?
- what if they are in different rooms?
- what if we are in the gym?
But today, I decided to rethink my fire drill and do something that also needs to be practiced: the one time that a fire drill should not lead to an evacuation.
So, I walked the learning community through our drills:
We talked about what to do in case of an earthquake. Even talked about how often so much shaking will trigger a fire alarm which would have us exit the building.
We also had a lockdown drill. That meant we had to do what we could to “hide” and remain quiet until we heard the all clear signal. I even introduced the “3 bell” system – because while on quiet relaxed days where all students are sitting nicely in their classrooms with their outdoor shoes and coats on are nice, more likely than not, students will be all over the place and probably even outside – so we ring the bell 3 times and that lets students know they need to get inside the building and then inside the closest room right away.
But what happens when the fire alarm rings while we are in a lockdown?
That is the question I wondered, and so we put that into todays drill activities. Especially since it was looking especially rainy and we wanted to limit the amount of transitions….
So we tried that as a discussion point in classes and agreed, if the lockdown alert (3 bells) goes and then the fire alarm sounds, we will follow our lockdown rules first – and then evacuate when an “all clear” signal is shared.
So for the first time, I actually did do a fire drill in which students were not expected to head outside at all. Out next one will focus on the “time” it takes to leave the building. But no rush!