Create an Emergency Evacuation Plan for Schools with These Three Tips

by | Jan 19, 2024

Does your school have an evacuation plan in place in the event of a school emergency? recommends every school develop a comprehensive emergency operations plan (EOP) that documents the actions students, teachers, and school staff should take before, during, and after an emergency event.

An important part of your EOP is documenting how people should get to safety during different kinds of emergencies. Here are three tips for creating emergency evacuation plans for schools.

1. Coordinate with Local Authorities and Emergency Responders

Don’t develop evacuation plans in isolation! The Department of Education recommends working with school district staff, school resource officers, local law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire officials, and mental health practitioners to develop an EOP.

How long will it take local EMS to respond? How many officers can be dispatched in the event of an active shooter threat? Is your parking lot and building accessible to emergency vehicles? Are there threats specific to your area like severe weather or earthquakes? Collaborating with community organizations and safety professionals will help you answer these questions and more, and ensure your plan is as comprehensive as possible and coordinates emergency response from multiple organizations.

2. Plan for Different Types of Evacuation

An evacuation plan’s purpose is to guide teachers, students, and staff to a safe location. That location could change depending on the type of emergency. During a tornado, teachers must guide their classrooms to a designated severe weather shelter. In a fire, the goal is to get out of the building as quickly and safely as possible. A reverse evacuation moves students who are outside of the building into a safe area during a lockdown or shelter-in-place emergency.

Your EOP should identify all potential threats and include evacuation procedures for each one. Importantly, your EOP must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Emergency evacuation plans should accommodate students, teachers, and staff with disabilities and provide appropriate services and assistance during an emergency. This includes things like wheelchair-accessible ramps and not separating people from service animals.

3. Create Easy-to-Read School Evacuation Maps

Once you have planned for different kinds of evacuations, you need a way to guide people to safety. Accurate and easy-to-read evacuation maps are essential to your EOP. These maps clearly show someone’s current location and highlight the path to safety. When every second counts, you don’t want teachers to have questions about the nearest egress route or where the storm shelter is located.

Sample Highschool

In this high school fire evacuation map, the “you are here” location is clearly marked as well as the primary and secondary egress routes. Other information like fire extinguishers, fire pulls, and first aid help emergency responders coordinate their efforts.

Create School Safety Maps for Your EOP

Building Maps has helped thousands of school districts across the country create easy-to-read and code-compliant evacuation maps. Our in-house illustrators and life safety experts are here to help you prepare for any emergency. Request a quote online to get started. If you have questions, give us a call at 877.866.9696.

Additional Resources

Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans
Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice

EOP Interactive Tools
Department of Education

Tony Jones

About the Author: Tony Jones, CFPS, is the owner and founder of Building Maps. He is a safety mapping and code compliance expert. Tony holds his work to the highest standard because he knows “it’s not just a map, it’s about saving lives.”

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