Keeping a school full of children and staff members safe and accident free is no easy task. A small water spill in the hallway or a pothole on the playground can cause major injury and possibly open the school to legal repercussions if not addressed immediately. To avoid accidents at school, generate a clear set of safety guidelines and keep an eagle eye on facilities. Train staff and students on ways to prevent accidents from happening and what to do if someone does get hurt.
Create a safety committee of teachers, administrators and students. Get students involved, even in elementary school, so students feel part of keeping the school safe. Ask each committee member to submit one or two accidents he has witnessed at school or identify areas of the facility that may pose a safety threat.
Compile the submissions into a list and cross-check the list to look for similarities. You may find that members have witnessed the same accident or unsafe situation. Present your list to the committee and solicit ways that each situation could be remedied. Ask committee members to think of other ways the school may be unsafe. Add those ideas to your list and ask for suggestions on how to fix those areas.
Repair all unsafe areas within the facility. Refer to your list of hazardous areas and make repairs an immediate priority. For example, if there are potholes on the playground or a classroom door that slams closed, ask the school custodian or groundskeeper to place those repairs at the top of her list.
Design a set of safety rules that all students and staff must follow. Using your list from the safety committee, create a set of school-wide safety rules. Rules could include telling the custodian about all spills on the floor immediately (or wiping up any spills you see) to no running in the hall.
Furnish a copy of the safety rules to all students and staff members and then create large posters that list the safety rules. Hang safety posters in common areas such as the lunchroom, office, near the restrooms and in the front hallway.
Implement safety training for all students. Ask teachers to conduct classroom safety training based on the rules. Hold teacher training beforehand to direct teachers on topics to cover and how to train students.
Invite safety experts such as firefighters, Red Cross workers and health workers to school to hold discussions about how to avoid accidents and keep students safe.
Conduct monthly inspections of playground equipment and facilities. Ask safety committee members to conduct routine checks of designated “unsafe” or hazardous areas. Supply the group with a checklist to assist with the monthly review.
Repair or address any broken equipment or unsafe areas immediately after the monthly inspection and re-address any areas that are a habitual problem. For example, if a piece of playground equipment continues to break, remove the entire piece of playground equipment.
Meet with your safety committee once a year to review safety rules and generate a new list, especially if you’ve made changes to the facility.
Communicate your safety efforts with parents to support your initiative.
Designate a special “safety week” where students and staff focus and discuss the rules. Play safety games such as “safety bingo” (where students identify ways to stay safe instead of finding numbers on the bingo card) and encourage students to come to school dressed as their favorite rescue heroes.