School Safety has been a major concern across the world. There have been a number of incidents in recent times which have posed an alarming situation for us. Whether it is Bhuj Earthquake (2001) or Kumbakonam Fire Accident (2004) in India, it really pushed us to think on the lines of Preparedness and Planning for School Safety.
School Safety Concept:
Himachal Pradesh state is vulnerable to various hazards and one of them is the Earthquake. Here I would like to add that it is not the earthquake which causes causalities but it is mainly the poor construction planning which increases the vulnerability index.
During my efforts on School Safety, I have emphasised mainly on Structural Mitigation Measures, Safe Evacuation Methods, Fire Safety Methods and Planning aspects covering in following sections.
The Disaster Management Act, 2005:
In December 2005, Disaster Management Act came in existence. A very important act to formalise the efforts towards Disaster Management with a strong institutional Mechanism. However these efforts were influenced to adopt a paradigm-shift towards Preparedness from Recovery or Post Disaster Response.
Structural Mitigation Measures:
Sounds like typical technical/ engineering terms…isn’t it??? The fact has been that we keep on complexing up things rather than making it simpler for the society well being.
Here is an example. What Structural Mitigation in real terms is? A simpler answer to this question will be a better planned construction of School Premises to bear the after shocks of earthquake. But what about the interior stuff of the building???
Yes! This aspect can not be left neglected. The interior stuff of the School Premise needs to be fixed with appropriate measures such as fixing almirahs, Black Boards, Tables, Chairs, Desks, Electrical Equipment and other stuff respectively. Though it is not a that technical concept. An average carpenter can bolt this interior stuff increasing preparedness of the school towards earthquake hazard.
Safe Evacuation Methods:
Safe Evacuation is the key of any Disaster Management Plan. Safe evacuation means that all the living creatures and valuables are transported from the site of hazard to a safer place without being exposed to the aftermaths of the hazard.
Safe Evacuation is based on structural and non-structural properties in the Safety Plan. Some of them are:
- A pre-defined evacuation path/ paths
- A pre-defined order of Evacuation (Timing and Discipline)
- Roles of Volunteers/ Emergency Team Members
- Priority to the differently able students
- A safer assembly/ collection layout
A safe evacuation with in time limit is subject to the routine practice for the event which is termed as “Mock Drill“. Mock Drills can be further divided in to two Categories:
- Earthquake Mock Drill
- Fire Mock Drill