Students should know how to evacuate a school bus during an emergency, for accidents can happen at any time. Look at these school bus evacuation drills to make them ready.
When we send kids to school, they are left unattended. One such area is a school bus, where they have to be on their own if an emergency occurs while they are on the bus, need to be prepared to exit the buses safely.
For that reason, practicing safety drills for safe evacuation from school buses is an important activity.
Students need to know how to respond at the time of crisis. So we need to prepare them in advance with safety drills. Here are some tips that you can follow to prepare the students for an emergency. It will help them respond quickly.
1) Let them know what kind of situation they might face
Many of us underestimate kids’ wisdom and don’t share vital information with them. It is a big mistake, and no one should do that.
Let them know about the type of situations and accidents they might face when they are on the bus. It will help them paint a picture of the situation in their mind and stay prepared in advance.
Different types of accidents bring different evacuation challenges, and they need to act accordingly.
As an example, if the school bus collides with other cars, then the evacuation challenge will be different from the school bus fire.
Similarly, if the bus falls in a water body, then the evacuation challenge will be different from others. Every student must know what type of problems they might face in an accident and stay mentally prepared for it. It will help them react quickly, and their survival chances in an accident will increase subsequently.
2) Emergency exit
According to the law, every school bus must have multiple emergency exit points, which students can use in case of an emergency.
Generally, every school bus has one emergency exit in the back and one additional exit on the side of the bus.
These exit points should be marked, and students must be aware of this. They should also know how to open these exit points on their own.
In most school buses, the exit points remain temporarily locked for daily operation. A liver mechanism maintains this temporary locking of the exit point.
Students need to pull or slide the lever to open these exit points. Locking those exit points permanently is against the law, and the bus will be considered unfit for student carriage.
Operating any vehicle for student carriage without proper emergency exit is against the law.
If the law enforcement agency found any such vehicle on the road, then they can take appropriate action against the school administration.
3) Safe Exit from the Vehicle
The most common scenario, when the students may have to leave the vehicle, if the bus stopped functioning for any reason, and stopped on a busy road.
It may have been a common scenario that many students may have to face in real life.
In such a situation, all students may have to exit from the vehicle in a composed manner.
Unnecessary shouting may spread confusion and fear. Small students may get traumatized by this. The students have to evacuate the bus from such direction, where traffic is not coming.
Otherwise, oncoming vehicles may collide with the students and cause fatal injuries to them.
After coming out of the bus, all students must remain in one place away from the traffic. The senior students must assist the driver in keeping every student in a safe location.
They must strictly impose discipline and maintain a line for this purpose.
4) Safe Exit after a Vehicle Collision
Another most common incident that happens on the road is a vehicle collision, where a school bus may collide with another vehicle.
This type of accident is not that rare; every year, hundreds of these types of happening on our road. The school must teach the students how to deal with this type of accident.
To protect the students from such an accident, the school needs to ensure that every student must wear a seatbelt when riding the school bus.
The student must know how to open the seatbelt quickly. If any seatbelt gets stuck by the collision force, then the driver needs to use the seatbelt cutter to relieve the student.
If the driver gets injured in this accident, then the senior students need to take charge of the evacuation process, and they need to bring everyone down from the vehicle in a disciplined manner.
5) Safe Exit from a Vehicle Fire
School bus fires can be a very dangerous type of accident. In the past, such accidents have taken the lives of many children.
Not only collision-related accidents can cause vehicle fires. Other minor issues like leakage in the fuel line or faulty electric may cause a vehicle fire.
For this reason, NHTSA has mandated fire extinguishers on every school bus.
The fire extinguishers must be in working condition, so they can be used when needed. The school authority or the school bus driver should check this device regularly and ensure its functional condition.
In the case of a small vehicle fire, it is the first line of defense. With the help of this device, a school bus driver can quickly put off small vehicles on fire.
The first sign of vehicle fire is smoke. If any student notices any smoke, then he should inform the bus driver immediately. Vehicle fire spread very quickly.
Within a couple of minutes, it can engulf the bus. In case of a fire, the driver must prioritize evacuation of the vehicle. Only after evacuating every student from the bus he can extinguish the fire.
The school bus driver and senior students riding the bus must know how to use fire extinguishers.
6) Safe exit from the water
Many times after the accident, a vehicle can get into a waterbody near the road. This type of accident can be fatal for students who don’t know swimming. The water gushes in the vehicle very quickly and drowns it within a couple of minutes.
If a bus goes into a water body, then the front portion of the bus drown first by the weight of the engine. It lifts the back portion of the bus. The driver needs to open the back door immediately and evacuate all students from the back of the bus.
The driver may need to take help from senior students who can swim and evacuate the bus as quickly as possible. Many school practices this school bus evacuation drills regularly. Regular exercise of this drill can save many lives on the road.
7) Use of First aid kit
According to the law, every school bus must have a first aid kit. It is the first line of defense.
A first aid kit can give temporary relief from the burn, cut, sprains, and strains. The kit generally includes sterile gauze pads, bandages, anesthetic lotion, wrapping gauze, sterile gloves, scissors, tweezers, safety pins, etc.
These items can be beneficial in treating the wound until medical services arrive at the situation.
The student and the driver must know how to use these items and give first-aid properly.
They must be trained to stop bleeding, apply a bandage on the wound, and perform CPR on a person. These activities can save a life in the real world.
8) Drivers Responsibility
Most of the time, the school bus driver is the only adult who operates the vehicle and stays with the students.
Thus, he is responsible for the students by law. His conduct should prioritize student’s safety all the time. The driver should never be intoxicated while operating the vehicle.
He should not be in improper health conditions. He should never be on any medication that reduces mental focus and degrade driving ability.
With any degraded health condition, the driver should stop driving immediately and seek help from other drivers or school authorities.
In case of an accident, if the driver remains harmless, then he is responsible for the safe evacuation of the students.
In such a case, he needs to organize the evacuation process and oversight of the process.
He also needs to put the students in a safe environment until help arrived from the emergency services.
He also needs to establish communication with the emergency service department and seek medical attention from them.
For this purpose, the driver can use a cell phone or two-way radio. Only after arrival and operation of the emergency services, the driver can take relief.
9) Schools Responsibility
The school authority needs to play an active role in ensuring the safety of the students.
They need to conduct school bus evacuation drills with the students and deliver valuable information on this subject.
Also Read: 30 Essential Road Safety Rules in India
They also need to take multiple precautions in advance. Here are some steps they need to take.
- Appointment of a professional driver: The school authority needs to appoint a licensed driver for regular student transportation purposes. The driver must have a valid license for operating such vehicles. In some states, the driver must have prior experience of operating heavy vehicles before becoming a school bus driver. The law also mandates the driver must not have any criminal record, and the driver needs to be in the proper physical and mental condition during operation. The driver must not consume any alcohol or narcotics a couple of hours before driving.
- Supply of operational vehicle: Many schools own their bus fleet, and some schools hire bus fleet from other companies. In both cases, the school authority needs to analyze the drivable condition of the vehicle. The school bus must be fit for the road journey, and it should follow the mandated guidelines of NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The school authority and the bus company will be liable if these guidelines are not appropriately maintained.
- Supply of safety equipment: Every school bus must be equipped with proper safety equipment. Generally, the safety equipment includes a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, a seatbelt cutter, and a two-way radio for communication. It is the duty of the school authority and the bus companies to provide this safety equipment to every school bus. So they can be used to rescue students in an accident.
- Conduct evacuation drills regularly: Many states have mandated the school bus evacuation drill daily. For this reason, most schools need to conduct this drill once or twice a year. This drill gives the students real-life experience of facing a dangerous situation on the road and prepare them for the future.
10) The Assistance of Senior Students
The senior students play a pivotal role in the school bus evacuation drills.
The school needs to prepare these students to assist the driver in the evacuation process.
These seniors students also need to help the driver maintaining discipline among fellow students.
If in an accident, if the driver gets injured, then the senior students need to take charge and rescue everyone on the bus properly.
They must be taught how to use the first aid kit properly so that they can assist in an emergency.
Many schools also teach these students the utilization of different safety equipment like seat belt cutter and fire extinguisher.
So they can rescue other students and put off the fire in the vehicle. In many rural areas, the cell phone doesn’t work, and people still use a two-way radio.
In such places, the student needs to learn how to operate the two-way radio properly, so they can build communication with others and seek help for an emergency.
School bus evacuation drills can be very educational for the students.
In this exercise, they learn about the dangers around them. They also learn how to keep their composure in an emergency and respond according to the situation.
This process makes them a better person and saves lives in an accident or emergency