Woah, we're halfway there! Woah, oh, school's just weeks away! Not the best Bon Jovi parody, but you get the point. Pennsylvania students will be heading back to school or off to college in just a couple of weeks (the sales are already in full swing). Please take a moment to review how kids and teenagers can stay safe from weather hazards while at school.
In the Classroom – School Safety
While school administrators are responsible for planning for weather hazards on campus, parents can help kids know how to stay safe when dangerous weather occurs. If your student is attending school in-person or remotely (or both), learning what to do BEFORE hazardous weather occurs will best prepare them to stay safe.
- Monitor Forecasts – Get in the habit of checking weather forecasts from a trusted source. Knowing when snow, severe weather, heavy rain, and excessive cold and heat are in the forecast can help you to prepare, from knowing when to drink more water to when to shed raindrops with an umbrella. Students should learn what actions to take when dangerous weather arrives. You can find up-to-date local weather information from the National Weather Service by typing your zip code in the search.
- Get Alerts – Make sure you're signed up for severe weather alerts at home and school. Third-party vendors and some schools offer special weather alerts. You can join the AlertPA notification system by CodeRED for emergency and weather-related alerts, health notifications, and other updates from commonwealth and federal agencies.
- Know the Plan – Schools have plans for weather hazards and emergencies. Ask to go over the plan so you know when your kids may be delayed, held, or when events may be canceled, plus where your kid may be evacuated due to a weather event or fire. Most importantly, find out where and how you will reunite. Be sure your kid knows the plan too.
Continue reading to get college safety tips and More.
On Campus – College Safety
College students enter a new world quickly, often being independent and away from family for the first time. So, it's important to make weather safety and awareness a part of their education at the start of each semester.
- Location and Alerts – Going to college sometimes means that students live in or commute to a new environment. National Weather Service warnings are issued by geographic area, and many alert systems are triggered by the county. Know the town and county of your home and school to signup for life-saving alerts. Students AND parents should sign up for alerts from the National Weather Service. Often, the college offers weather alerting services as part of a campus-wide alerting system or application.
- Get the Plan – Many schools have a safety or emergency guide summarizing the institution's protocol for what the campus community should do in the event of an emergency situation (e.g., weather event, fire, active shooter, etc.). This guide is a good starting point for students and their parents to review to gain an understanding of what to do in these situations.
A few extra tips about on-campus safety:
- Emergency Phones/Callboxes – e.g., Bluelight phones (strategically placed around campus) connect directly to campus police, know the location of phones and how to use them.
- LiveSafe APP (or similar) – many colleges utilize an APP for smartphones allowing students to have a "panic button" on their phones, call campus police with a touch of a button, and/or track the student via GPS (on the phone) when activated. These APPs connect directly to campus police and are monitored.
- Campus Police – Know the campus police phone number and have it on speed dial.
- Campus/Text Alerts – Most colleges, in an effort to better disseminate emergency information, offer an emergency text messaging system that will alert students, parents, faculty and staff of a campus emergency or weather alert. This system is a mass notification system that can alert you with a notification to your smartphone and email, as well as posting to University social media accounts. This service is optional and usually requires a student (or parents) to sign-up. There is no advertising or non-emergency alerts sent to you, but you must be registered to receive alerts. All members of the campus community are strongly urged to sign up to receive these alerts.