Top 5 Items to Secure Your Classroom (2023 Teacher Security Handbook)
This is something extremely close to home for us at KINEC. These simple security tactics and preparations will save lives in the worst situations.
1. Bleeding Control Kit
It's no surprise that the first thing on our list is the item we have placed hundreds of across the country. The reality of the situation is that when someone has a life-threatening injury in a classroom during a school shooting, natural disaster, or any other awful situation— they need medical attention NOW. In recent memory, response times to active shooters have not been fast enough (i.e. Uvalde, Parkland, etc.). That is not to slander our EMS and law enforcement, we love out first responders. However, there is a high probability that no one will respond in time to treat life-threatening injuries. You can have all the preparations in the world to stop this from happening to people. Yet if one person has life threatening bleeding on campus— you need to be able to save their life. If you are a teacher and don't have a bleeding control kit or you would like to take the initiative in getting your school to buy these kits, please contact me through our website and I will send you one or start working with you.
2. Door Barricade
There's an ocean of options for door barricading. They can range from extremely simple and cheap to expensive commercial barriers. The most rudimentary idea is probably what you have already been taught: "okay class, I need you to pile my desk and any other heavy furniture we have against the door." This isn't a bad idea, and it's pretty effective in most situations. However, it can be loud and take precious time to accomplish a sturdy wall of desks and chairs. I'll publish a more in depth article about other ideas, but I want to share this awesome method of securing a door with only a chair or a desk:
3. Some Kind of Offensive Capability
This is a pretty touchy subject. There are a few caveats, but generally I think it's a pretty good idea to have some kind of blunt weapon in the classroom. This could be a golf club, baseball bat, large flashlight, or a thick dowel. This needs to be hidden away to a point that your students don't even know that it exists. High schoolers are idiots (I know because I'm still in high school) and they will probably be causing trouble or be distracted by this if it's out in the open. The same rule applies for any other level of education. Another stipulation that needs to be met is a certain level of physical ability or preferably fitness. If you ever intend on protecting your students with something in your room, you need to be able to use it. You need to be honest with yourself in determining if you would be more of an asset or a liability in having one of these. You also need to be mentally prepared to fight if you decide to have something like this in the classroom. This is certainly not a viable option for everyone, but could be the difference if it is appropriate. Here's a video that I think demonstrates just how scary and effective one of these objects can be:
4. An Emergency Kit
What do I mean by "emergency kit?" This could have a varying range of items based on where you are geographically, how big your school is, and some other factors. However, the bare minimum should include trash bag(s), a flashlight, extra water, some standard pain meds, a roll of duct tape, and some toilet paper. This should all ideally be housed in a 5 gallon bucket of some sort. There are a number of situations that a worst case scenario could trap you in the classroom for 6+ hours. These include: an earthquake, a water line breaking, or an extended lockdown. I'll get right to it. The obvious reason to have the toilet paper, bucket, and trash bags is if you are stuck in the classroom for an extended period of time. As Murphy's law would tell us, someone will have to go to the bathroom during that period. These items will hopefully maintain some sort of dignity and a bit of cleanliness for the unlucky person who just couldn't hold it for that period of time. A flashlight will be really useful for any sort of blackout. Water will help everyone in the classroom feel better and stay hydrated. Pain meds are nice to have if someone has a minor injury or swelling. Lastly, perhaps the most useful item on the planet is duct tape. You can tape a trash bag to a window that has been broken as a temporary solution if it's cold outside. You can bring together an open cut. You can patch a hole in a water bottle. You can seal the lid to your bucket. The possibilities are only limited to your creative problem solving ability. Some additional items that would be useful are: a deck of cards, some kind of food, hand sanitizer, and some baby wipes.
5. Emergency Protocol Manual
The most squared away and prepared school districts I've worked with have all had some kind of standard booklet or manual detailing all of the SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures) in the case of different emergencies. This is something to bring up in a staff meeting if you do not already have adequate materials for this. In the meantime, it's a great idea to go back and look at all of the emergency plans your school already has as well as proposing new ones. Once you have these together and know that you don't have any misinformation, you can compile all of these together. Plans for active shooters, fires, and medical emergencies with students or teachers are all things that should be in this manual. A great accessible way to do this is a color-coded laminated packet that hangs on the wall in the open. This ensures that if you have a substitute teacher or have left the room, whoever is there will know exactly what to do based on their situation. These should also include 911 instructions that could make your life exponentially easier when you have to dial 911 in a stressful situation. Those should look something like this: "I'm at _____ High School at 123 Boardwalk Avenue on the South side of the building in classroom 25 on the first floor. (State your emergency plainly and calmly)." It seems simple, but it could really help if you're not used to performing in extremely high stress situations. Below is an example of some items that should covered from the University of Georgia.
I hope you found value from this, and even if this helps one teacher prepare themselves and their students for the worst— my time writing this was well worth it.