Intervention Strategies for Disaster

How to prepare yourself and your class for disasters.
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Teacher Time and Attention

Given the pervasiveness of disasters, teachers sometimes suffer from loss of possessions, homes, or loved ones. If schools are closed due to the disaster's damage (physical or psychological), teachers and other staff can use this time to establish contacts with coworkers and begin to deal with the stress. Classrooms may also be in disarray or relocated after a disaster. Scheduling planning time prior to reopening will allow teachers to organize classroom lessons, instructional activities, and one-on-one response to student fears.

Preventive and Clean-Up Activities

Restoring a sense of control after a disaster is crucial to the recovery process. Prior to an earthquake, students and school personnel who live in earthquake prone areas should receive instruction regarding appropriate action to take should an earthquake occur. It is highly unlikely that a school will, on short notice, experience flooding.It is, however, possible that staff and students engaged in a field trip or extracurricular activity could find themselves in a situation where flooding may occur. If so advisories issued by the National Weather Service and Corps of Engineers(or agency responsible for flood control in the area) concerning flood stages and evacuation routes.

During the hurricane season (i.e., from June I to November 30), the school principal should make daily checks of area weather forecasts and disseminate appropriate information to staff and students. Possible evacuation routes and/or school dismissal procedures should be planned in advance. If evacuation prior to the hurricane is not possible, students and staff should remain inside the school building until advised that the danger has passed.

Unfortunately, the warning period for a tornado is often so short that the best prevention strategy is to seek immediate cover. Each school building should designate a basement or ground floor area near the center of the building away from windows as the official tornado shelter. Corridors facing north are the safest; those facing east are second best. All individuals should immediately evacuate large rooms (e.g., gymnasiums, cafeterias, and auditoriums) with free ceilings. If students and staff are caught outdoors in the event of a tornado, they should be instructed to he down flat in the nearest depression,ditch, or ravine

More on Helping Students Deal With Crises.

Excerpted from Disruption, Disaster, and Death: Helping Students Deal with Crises.

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