by Emily Ball ’22
Colleges and universities have been forced to evacuate quickly and efficiently in order to protect the safety of their students, due to the hurricanes down south, as well as the gas leaks in northeastern Massachusetts.
In the south, schools such as the University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina University were evacuated due to the threat of Hurricane Florence. However, these disasters do not only occur in southern states.
Locally, the gas leaks and explosions in parts of Massachusetts led to the evacuation of schools, such as Merrimack College.
“When I had to evacuate school it was definitely scary,” said Merrimack student Sarah Tierney. “I wish I would have been more prepared in case something like this was to happen beforehand, but I think the school did a good job updating us on the whole situation.”
With concerns of natural disasters and other possible issues, all schools must actively incorporate emergency evacuation training along with the traditional protocols, like fire drills.
Before practicing evacuation drills, campus safety must prep students with a list of items to pack when leaving campus, how they will be transported away from campus, where to meet, and how to communicate with loved ones.
“As a senior at Providence College, I have personally never encountered a situation where I needed to leave campus immediately,” said MaryKate Griffin ‘19. “However, I feel like if I did need to evacuate I would have no idea of what to do or where to go. I think that is the thing that the campus could improve on, just promoting what to do in case these emergencies arise.”
Practicing evacuation drills would prevent panic and stress by allowing students to become aware of where to go and what to bring if schools order an evacuation.
Along with conducting physical drills, schools must provide more information in preparation for in-the-moment emergencies in popular spots on campus.
Putting posters in student centers and flyers on bathroom stall doors will allow students to easily access information needed to understand safety procedures.
Not only should schools prepare for safety procedures, they must also acknowledge the threat of active shooters and bombs.
Several colleges across the nation, including Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, have reported an active shooter on campus. Students must know where to go in case a similar situation arises.
In addition, bomb threats have occured at many schools and students are unsure of how to react to this type of situation. Colleges must acknowledge certain areas as “bomb shelter” buildings where students can seek protection.
With the omnipresent possibility of emergencies arising, schools must take proper precautions to prepare students in case an evacuation is necessary.