Safety is a human concern – this concern must be taken more decisively by school and hospital communities given that they are in the business of caring for the young and in preserving lives. It is a concern that must be taken seriously and strive continually to achieve at all times especially during emergencies. A school or hospital and the highly vulnerable occupants – the children and the sick - are best protected by ensuring that the physical environment – the buildings, surroundings and facilities are safe, and secured by implementing regular maintenance of physical facilities and by preparing a systematic and well-documented safety and disaster preparedness plan.
Safety Check: Are the basic conditions and necessities in place in your school or hospital to provide for the health, security and safety of the occupants? Take a walk around your school campus or health facility and observe the items listed in the checklist. After this brief safety check, ask yourself the following questions: Is my school or hospital safe? What policies and actions should be done to improve the safety conditions in my school or hospital?
A Sample Checklist on Basic Safety Requirements
- Is water suitable for food preparation and drinking available?
- Is water suitable for personal hygiene and cleaning available?
- Is adequate lighting in all areas of the building and surroundings provided?
- Is a manual fire alarm system in place?
- Are fire extinguishers found in corridors, exit routes and high risk rooms?
- Are floors clean, non-slippery, without splinters and holes?
- Is there access for the disabled?
- Are corridors are wide and spacious, free from obstructions especially during an emergency?
- Are roofing materials completely and securely fastened and leak proof?
- Can room doors be opened from the inside for emergency exit purposes?
- Are stairways safe with adequate secured railings?
- Are electrical wires and cables properly fastened and secured?
- Are doors securely attached to jambs?
- Are entrance and exit points secured?
- Are proper exit markings provided to assist people that are not familiar where exits/ emergency exits are located?
- Are combustible and hazardous chemicals and gases safely and appropriately located?
- Are functional electrical and emergency lights with battery back-up in all critical areas available especially in hospitals?
- Are regular emergency drills (e.g. fire, earthquake drills) conducted?
- Are emergency evacuation maps posted in critical areas?
- Are periodic inspection, repair and maintenance of facilities and surroundings done?
If your answer to any of the questions is NO, then you must be concerned with the safety of your school or hospital. Providing the basic safety features in schools and hospitals is actually not enough to protect people and property especially in a hazard-prone environment. Hazards such as earthquakes, floods, fires, typhoons, landslides, etc. pose greater risks to schools or hospitals if interventions are not done to limit and/or mitigate the vulnerability to these hazards.
You can make schools and hospitals safer esepcially before a disaster strikes by acting now. The first step is visit the website of the One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign at http://www.safe-schools-hospitals.net/ and make a pledge.. You can pledge in any of the following roles:
- As an advocate for safe schools and hospitals
- As a leader for emergency and disaster preparedness
- As a champion for disaster risk reduction
Make a pledge, Save a Life!
The life that you may save maybe your loved ones or yours.
* Reference: 1 Million Safe Schools and Hospitals ADVOCACY Guide by UNISDR 2010