Teachers' guide to earthquake safety in schools-A A +A
Sunny Side Up
Friday, October 25, 2013
TEACHERS have an impact on the young lives of the students. Teachers can do so much in disseminating valuable knowledge and information that could save lives of their family members and students when calamity strikes.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through its agency, the Science Education Institute (SEI), has trained science and mathematics teachers on disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM). One of the reference materials handed out to the participants is the Manual that would guide them in conducting disaster risk reduction and management-related activities in their respective schools and area. Likewise, the manual is intended to facilitate the integration of DRRM concepts to teachers’ lessons in science and other subjects. This manual is available at the DOST Regional Offices for those who may be interested to avail of it.
Another material is a primer for Teachers on Earthquake Safety in Schools, made available through the effort of another DOST agency, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), in cooperation with the Department of Education (DEPED) and funded by UNICEF.
The above reference materials are very helpful in earthquake preparedness in schools.
Earthquake is a weak to strong shaking of the ground due to the sudden movement or displacement of the rocks underneath. Strong ground shaking can cause injuries to people due to broken glasses and fallen objects. Buildings may be damaged, and those that are not properly or have weak foundation can collapse and can cause death.
School children spend most of their time in school. We do not know when and where an earthquake would occur. If an earthquake occurs during school time, teachers are expected to respond and secure the safety of the children. Teachers should learn and teach the needed actions to avoid the possible effects and impacts the earthquake may have.
Teachers, what do we need to do at school during earthquakes? We can observe safety measures to avoid the impacts of an earthquake. We need to familiarize ourselves and teach our students about our school surroundings. You can start by having a class activity wherein you and your students can go around the school premises to be familiarized with the earthquake safe spots in your school, like open spaces, etc. and to identify unsafe practices, potential hazards, and danger zones in case of an earthquake.
Some possible hazards in school include the following: large and heavy pieces of furniture that could topple such as book cases and cabinets; hanging flower pots and ceiling fans; glass window panes and walls that could break; heavy picture frames and mirrors; latches on cabinets that will not hold cabinet doors; glass or other breakable objects that are kept on high and open shelves; obstructions such as plant boxes, chairs and benches, bulletin boards, trash cans that may block exit points and corridors; and elevated water tanks and electrical posts.
Explain to the class what to expect during an earthquake. This could be done through discussions about the common observations during earthquakes.
Teach schoolchildren that during an earthquake, they will FEEL a weak or a very strong shaking. The shaking may start out gently and then it becomes stronger, enough to shock a person off his/her feet.
Teach schoolchildren that they will SEE hanging objects like lamps, wall frames swing violently or may even fall down; bookshelves, cabinets tables and chairs may move, be shifted and/or fall over; window panes may rattle and may even break.
Teach schoolchildren that they will HEAR low and loud rumbling noises, followed by the sounds of shaking, cracking and creaking wood, breaking glass and/or other falling objects.
Tell schoolchildren that when a strong shaking starts, they should: stay away from falling objects such as pieces of broken glass windows, ceiling fans, etc; get under a study table/desk and do DUCK, COVER, and HOLD, and stay put until the shaking stops.
As soon as the shaking stops, instruct schoolchildren to leave the classroom immediately and get out of the building in an orderly manner. Tell them to walk, not run, not push, and not talk, and proceed to the identified evacuation center.
School heads are required to prepare an earthquake evacuation area and to conduct regular earthquake drills. These preparations would prevent loss of lives when earthquake occurs.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 25, 2013.