emergency, english, language arts, middle school, routines, teacher

6 Emergency Drills Schools Really Should Be Doing

It’s every teacher’s favorite event: the emergency drill. Yes, I know it’s for our own good, we all need to know what to do, blah blah blah. It just never seems to happen at a good time. (In all fairness, though, there probably is never a good time.) However, there are a number of situations that do not get covered by your typical fire or severe weather drills, including very common everyday situations, and if we should be prepared for everything, I think we would be remiss if the following are not included for future practice:


1. Zombie Apocalypse


Zombies are common and funny to talk about these days, but the fact that no one is taking them seriously is real cause for alarm. That’s how all disaster movies start out, with people blithely unaware of the dangers and then falling into harm due to their naivete. Well, that’s not going to happen on my watch.

  • Alarm SoundVoices chanting or moaning, loud clanking.
  • What to Do: Parents or other community members will have a scheduled rotation to come in and act as the zombies coming down hallways and maybe into classrooms for the older kids. Students will dodge their advances and escape to a safe room that has been designated for that floor. The safe room will be equipped with canned goods, a radio, bottled water, candles, leather-bound journals, ink pens, and copies of newspapers and People so we remember what was happening in the world.
  • Likelihood of Happening: Impossible, but you never know.

2. Asteroid Collision 


Deep Impact and Armageddon were movies that came out during my teenage years, and whatever you think of their quality, the thought of asteroids hitting the earth has been in the back of my mind ever since. If scientists knew ahead of time this was going to happen, we probably wouldn’t be at school, so this drill would be for the chance that an asteroid went undetected until it was almost in our atmosphere.

  • Alarm SoundExplosion, rock crumbling?
  • What to DoTry to get to a huge safe room below the basement of the school that has been equipped similarly to the zombie apocalypse safe rooms, with the addition of board games and sporting equipment. The room will have a periscope and a white dove for determining if it is safe to come out.
  • Likelihood of Happening: Highly unlikely.

3. Volcanic Eruption


So there’s been all this talk about increased geothermal activity at Yellowstone, and whether the huge caldera is going to blow sooner rather than later. (Scientists are saying later, so no worries.) Well, I was thinking — what if there was a caldera underneath my school that no one knew about?  The kids have had ZERO training in how to navigate lava flows or how to dodge flying pieces of molten rock.

  • Alarm Sound: Recording of a volcano erupting. Students will have to learn this if they are not already familiar.
  • What to Do: A simulation will have previously been set up in the hallways and stairways, made up of marked areas where students are allowed to step, simulating “solid ground.” If they step out of those marked areas into “burning hot lava,” they will immediately be escorted to a “cooling station” where they will review jumping strategies. Those who pass the initial stage will then have flying projectiles (lost and found items)  thrown at them to simulate airborne “volcanic debris.” This is still while jumping over the “burning hot lava.” Those who are hit are brought to a second “cooling station” to review dodging techniques. Students who pass the simulation are rewarded with a small piece of rock from the parking lot as a symbol of their volcanic prowess.
  • Likelihood of Happening: More likely if you live near Yellowstone, though still not really likely.


    4. Teacher Running Out of Writing Utensils

    writing utensil.jpg

    You know, the age-old dilemma. Where in all of God’s creation do my blasted pens and pencils go? I have some that I let students use, and my own personal stash, and they are both depleted within days. I’m sure students are walking off with them, and I probably walk off with them too, but I refuse to listen to logic about this.

    • Alarm Sound: Empty container banging against desk.
    • What to DoStudents should ask the person next to them if they can borrow a utensil. If a student has developed a reputation for walking off with pens, then they will have to write with a pencil from a miniature golf course. Teacher will make mental note to ask for more pens/pencils from the office, and then promptly forget five seconds later until the next time this situation happens.
    • Likelihood of HappeningAll the dang time.

    5. Teacher Running Out of Tissues


    No matter how many boxes I start off with at the beginning of the year, it is never enough. And I always run out in the midst of cold and flu season.

    • Alarm SoundThe sound of a sneeze with a lot of snot behind it, followed by the slamming of an empty tissue box into a wastebasket.
    • What to DoThe student closest to the door will run to the office or supply closet in search of more tissue boxes. For the immediate nose discharge, the student who caused the alarm will run to the bathroom for paper towels and wash his or her hands of said discharge when finished. Students will then be lectured about how they shouldn’t waste tissues because of the people who “really need it.”
    • Likelihood of HappeningUnlikely at the beginning of the year; near certainty during cold/flu season.

    6. Teacher Really, Really Having to Use Bathroom


    Our teacher restroom is 100x nicer than this, praise God.

    This was really terrible when I was pregnant. I was supposed to be staying hydrated, but my bladder was also the length and width of a small Post-It. It really hasn’t gotten a ton better since having kids, but I can keep slightly better control now. Still, I think there should be an alarm for those times you know it would be a traumatizing experience for the students if you stayed in the room.

    • Alarm SoundA strong, gushing waterfall.
    • What to DoStudents immediately busy themselves with work. Absolutely any kind of work that means their head is down and they’re not making eye contact with the teacher. The teacher will flip on a small camera that is just for this situation. The “on” switch of the camera will notify someone in the office that immediate surveillance is needed of that classroom while the closest available person starts making their way to the location. Once confirmation has been received from the office, the teacher will then hightail it to the restroom. Since this is a drill, the teacher can take a small breather, comb hair, check texts, etc. Then she will calmly reenter her classroom and call students back to attention when she’s ready. The drill will be timed for the following components: how long it takes for confirmation to be received from the office, how long it takes the reinforcements to come, and how fast the teacher can make it to the restroom. Teachers will NOT be timed for how long they are actually in the restroom; that is private. Special action may be taken if a teacher is suspected of overusing this drill.
    • Likelihood of HappeningVery likely as the morning goes on, especially if coffee was imbibed; extremely likely when standing up in front of the class.

    What are other drills should schools consider implementing?