Sunday, September 19, 2010

A TORNADO? Why worry, I don't live in Kansas?

Tornadoes don’t only happen out west or in Kansas. However unlikely for your area, they can occur almost anywhere. This is exactly why school’s need to take an ALL HAZARD approach to school preparedness.

Sept 16, 2010: An east coast storm that generates two tornadoes and a micro-burst wind storm struck in the New York City region and generated 125 mph winds in the surrounding areas on Thursday evening during rush hour. The storm traveled across the high population dense urban areas in Brooklyn and Queens toppling trees and power lines, crushing cars, peeled away roofs, and unfortunately killed a woman sitting in her car alongside her husband. One of the tornadoes hit the NYC area at 5:33 pm with winds up to 80 mph and the other tornado hit the NYC area at 5:42 pm with winds up to 100 mph traveling in a path of four miles through the city. It was the micro-burst (an intense gust of wind that pours down from a storm) that generated 125 mph winds that covered an area 8 miles long by 5 miles causing considerable storm damage and loss of power. Residents and commuters were stunned and many people came close to injury and death as it occurred during rush hours including parents picking children up from after-school activities. There were 60 reports of buildings with possible structural damage.

Points to Ponder:
  • A dangerous weather incident can occur at any time, in this real world weather emergency this storm could have affected your school's:
    • Faculty, staff, and student families returning home from school.
    • Teams and fans traveling to and from an away game school sporting event
    • A Thursday night school home sporting event you are hosting, band competition, or play.
    • Students being released from an after-school program for working parents or sports practice.
  • How does your school track and monitor weather? How does school leadership use this weather tracking method to develop decision points (postpone, cancel, or continue) scheduled school events that maybe effected by weather? How are weather announcements made for school events?
  • Following this storm, HOW do you check and WHO checks for structural damage in your school and school facilities?
  • Your school may be fine but an adjacent one may be damaged and may require the temporary or short term use of your facilities? Do you have a plan for this? Have you coordinated with adjacent school for this type of event?
  • If your school is damaged do you have a school continuity of operations plan (COOP)?
In March of 2010, there was a severe storm to the Northeast and our school in Connecticut was not damaged, save for an outside scoreboard. However, due to downed trees and associated power-lines throughout the city it created unsafe conditions for school children in their neighborhoods; we couldn’t open the school up for five school days.


Saturday, September 11, 2010


Sept 2010: A 15 year old Swiss boy who purchased a laser pointer from the Internet damaged his eye sight. He was shining the laser pointer at a mirror to create a light show and accidentally zapped his eyes a few times. (In the US laser pointers have FDA restrictions to prevent immediate damage. The laser the boy purchased was 30 times more powerful than the FDA restricted laser pointers.) The boy is being treated at the Lucerne Cantonal Hospital in Switzerland and noticed blurred vision almost immediately. He was afraid of getting in trouble and didn't tell his parents for two weeks. His vision was so affected in his damaged eye he could not see three fingers held up more than three feet away.

  • Most schools have policies pertaining to restricted or dangerous items and laser pointers need to be included.
  • If a student is found in violation of having a laser pointer, they need to be punished and the word needs to get out to the student population.
  • Sometimes businesses have given out laser pointers as part of an advertising or marketing gimmick, be aware.
  • I have confiscated two laser pointers in the past: one was being used by a student in the library and one was being used by a student in the cafeteria. 
  • Teachers who use laser pointers need to treat them as they would any controlled substance, such as a chemical in chemistry lab. If a laser pointer is left out, it will disappear and reappear when a student has it in their possession and is using it inappropriately. The teacher will be liable, let alone if someone is injured. Wouldn't recommend having them in your classroom, if you can't control its security. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back To School & Back To School Preparedness Blog

I have been busy this summer and have not had much opportunity to blog, but I am back. I have read three books and am in the process of reading a fourth that pertain to school preparedness. I approached each reading with the goal of identifying observations, lessons learned, and issues unresolved to apply to the school preparedness process. The following books I completed are:
  • NO RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT by Lucinda Roy.  The author was the English Dept Chair at Va Tech who individually taught Seung-Hui Cho and attmepted to ensure he received treatment before he went on a rampage shooting in April 2007.
  • MY BLOODY LIFE: The Making of a Latin King by Reymundo Sanchez. The author tells of life as a child, young adult, and adult in the Latin Kings gang in Chicago. Provides insights into the recruiting of kids and day-to-day activities of gang members.
  • COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen. The author was one of the original reporters involved with the April 20, 1999 reports of the horrific school shooting at Columbine HS. He conducted ten years of research and conducted a detailed review of police, FBI, and shooter's records, files, videos, etc.
I am presently reading:
  • RAMPAGE: The Social Roots of School Shootings by Katherine S. Newman. This Harvard Professor and Dean lead a team of doctoral students who conducted a Dept of Education funded two year research project focused on school violence (shootings) and the possible causes associated with school rampage shootings.
Good to be back, and looking forward to preparing our school's for a safe and secure academic year!!!!!