Emergency Information for Parents
Learn About Your Role in Emergencies
Preparedness is Key
HCS continues fire drills, weather drills, lockdown drills. These drills contribute to the efficiency and rapidity of response in the case of an emergency.
Preparation like this is also necessary for parents and guardians. Consider possible reactions to different events before they happen. Discuss these courses of action as a family so that everyone knows what to expect. Make sure everyone is prepared to act in a calm, responsible manner. It is easier to do this when a plan is in place.
Parents Can Assist The School By:
- Remembering to be patient. The administration and staff’s priority is the safety of the students, and they take that trust and responsibility extremely seriously. All school officials can communicate with each other and have specific duties in times of crisis. Information will be released as soon as the crisis is over and when verified, accurate information is available.
- Refraining from rushing to the school in an emergency—this will allow the staff or emergency response team members to perform their duties without interference or distraction.
- Refraining from making calls to the school, which could jam the phone lines. Texting allows communication with your student directly. However, do not be alarmed if they do not respond, they may have been instructed to silence or turn off their cell phones.
- Keeping emergency cards up to date with correct phone numbers and names of people authorized to pick up students.
- Being prepared to display photo identification if a student pick-up scenario is implemented so authorities can release your student to you or your designee. Again, be patient, every student must be accounted for.
- Maintaining a façade of calm and patience. Students do not need to see panicky adults—it will add to their agitation.
ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate)
ALICE contains steps that empower school personnel in the event of a violent intruder or other crisis that threatens to harm students or others in the building. In October of 2014 representatives from Huntsville City Schools and the Huntsville Police Department were trained as ALICE instructors so they could teach HCS employees and incorporate ALICE into HCS security planning. Fore more information on ALICE watch the following video: ALICE Overview.
What to Expect
When bad weather is possible, the call to cancel or delay school is monitored continuously until an informed decision can be made. In the case of winter precipitation, the determination is made after several key roads in the area are examined for safety. In some cases, the determination may be made the previous evening. The information on cancellations and delays will be disseminated to the community through the local media and the school system’s automated calling system.
In the event that weather moves into the area (severe storms, tornados), the decision to cancel school will be made at the HCS level, and the information will be released through the usual avenues. If the National Weather Service has issued a TORNADO WATCH (conditions are favorable for severe weather), and you would like to collect your child, you may check them out in the routine manner.
When a TORNADO WARNING (a tornado has been spotted in the area) is issued, the students are moved as quickly as possible to the safest areas of the building. HCS strongly suggests that parents remember that it is most unwise to travel during a warning. Parents who arrive during a warning:
- May find that due to the sheltering procedures, it will be difficult to find your child.
- May find the staff too busy completing their duties and maintaining order to assist you—remember your child’s safety comes first!
- Will be reminded that check outs during a WARNING are highly discouraged.
If an evacuation of the student body becomes necessary for any reason, the students will be transported to a secure location, and parents will be notified where and when to pick their children up. In some instances, student drivers may be able to transport themselves home, but not until every student has been accounted for. All information will go out through the familiar channels.
Any threats that are received by the school are thoroughly investigated by the Security Office. Notification of families will not occur until comprehensive action has been taken. Please do not expect automated calls to be made in the middle of a crisis.
Your students have been briefed and know what to expect. The school conducts drills regularly so that everyone knows what to do.
Other General Ideas for Peace of Mind
- Discuss family plans for different emergency situations, and allow your children to give you feedback about what you have planned. Adjust the plan to include any suggestions they may have.
- Discuss with your family how to communicate with each other in an emergency. Remind them that texting usually works, even if phone lines don’t.
- Maintain a supply of water, food, emergency supplies, and a small amount of cash at home.
- Purchase and program a weather alert radio so you may be informed of weather emergencies.
- Ensure everyone in the family knows the safe locations in the house for weather emergencies.
- Make sure every family member has access to the house. If your child usually uses a keypad to let themselves in, and there is a power outage, they may be stranded outside.
- Discuss with your family where you would congregate in your neighborhood should need to vacate your home.