The loss of young, innocent lives
touches a common thread of sentiment
in people who otherwise have no
connection with the event.
These events elicit massive outpourings
of public sympathy but are symptomatic
of failure to provide a safe
environment for children's education.
• natural disasters: floods, landslides,
tornadoes, storms, earthquakes
• shootings, hostage-takings,
other acts of terrorism
• fires, structural collapses.
In the 2003
103 schools collapsed
753 were seriously
damaged and 2160
were damaged or
In the Bingöl earthquake of 1-5-2003
in Turkey (0334 hrs, mag. 6.8,
duration 17 secs):
• 3 school buildings totally collapsed
• 10 schools were badly damaged
• 12 schools were moderately damaged
• 3 schools were lightly damaged
• 84 boys died while sleeping in a
school dormitory that collapsed
(=50% of overall death toll).
Repetitive seismic risk: in Turkey,
eight million children attend 34,000 schools
that are vulnerable to seismic damage.
Some of the most seismic countries have
some of the youngest populations
(e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Indonesia).
Responsibilities for ensuring
safety are commonly split
between school staffs,
municipal engineers and
It is remarkable how
usually is: would
of similar complexity
permit such laxity?
had occurred during
school time, it would
have been necessary
to send 6500 children
home, but many of
them would not have
found parents there.
• children have a full moral right to
education and safety at school.
• about one billion children of school
age live in seismically active countries
• perhaps one third go to seismically
unsafe schools (and one seventh have
no schools to attend at all)
The global situation:-
Estimate of seismic death tolls in schools:
• over the next decade
• for the 20 most seismic countries
• events of MMI=VIII or greater
• children at school for 6-23%
of the year (105-250 days)
• child deaths in collapsed schools
estimated at 4800 per decade.
• median 100 children per school
• 15-30 earthquakes per year cause
schools to collapse, 40% mortality rate
Reality: in the Kashmir earthquake of 2005
10,000 schools collapsed
17,000 children died in them.
DAMAGE AND LOSS
TO DENY RISK
The arguments for school safety:
• morality and human rights
• duty of care to children (in loco parentis)
• the need to provide education
• multiple functions of schools in the
community: schools as community centres
or shelter for homeless survivors.
• physical hazards (structural & fitments)
• behavioural hazards
(what people do in a crisis)
• external hazards that affect the
building (such as floods, explosions,
earth tremors, landslides, subsidence)
• internal hazards that affect ability
to adopt self-protective behaviour,
e.g. fire or collapse of ceilings.
Hazards to schools can be divided into:-
• there is no simple rule for self-
protective behaviour in school buildings.
• competitive behaviour among childred
engendered by panic-induced flight
has been reported during earthquakes
in China, Mexico and Egypt
• when buildings collapse, children
and teachers are very efficiently
crushed under flimsy desks.
Evacuation remains the single most
effective strategy for avoiding danger, but
only if it can be completed in conditions
of relative safety—i.e. rarely
during the main impact or crisis
period, when there may be:
• distortion of doorways
• overturning or collapse of
fittings, fixtures and furniture
• severed power lines in puddles outside.
• façade collapse
• the building should not merely give
shelter but also provide refuge
• procedures for vacating schools during
emergencies should lead the occupants
progressively further away from danger.
of emergency services
Hazard impact to school
Hazards of evacuation
to assembly area
Sharing the burden and developing
a sense of commitment:
• teachers have a highly variable level
of interest in emergency planning
• children are an effective channel for
getting hazard and risk info to families
• children also adapt remarkably
well to unfamiliar situations
• education in risk management is needed
• generally, improved communication
is needed regarding school safety.
The destruction of 190 unreinforced
masonry schools in the Long Beach,
California, earthquake of 10-3-1933
(M=6.2) led to the Field Act for the
engineering seismic safety of school
buildings, which was passed exactly
one month after the earthquake.
The importance of legislation
(1) Assemble materials
• local maps
• plan of school
• describe school
(2) Describe setting of school
• surrounding area
• location of nearest emergency services.
(3) Identify and assess local hazards
• possible impacts on school
(4) Response scenarios
• evacuation routes, with alternatives
• assembly points, their
safety, ease of access
• refuges (churches, community
centres, etc.) and routes to them.
• teachers assemble students at primary
assembly point, take attendance
• monitors conduct a
sweep of the buildings
• evacuation option chosen
• students taken to
secondary assembly point
(6) Which emergency services, in what
order, from where, and how soon?.
(7) Teachers and head to know
who incident commander is
and what emergency forces
are present or on their way
(8) Procedures used to
choose evacuation options
(9) Conduct evacuation drills
• permanent signs (coloured
arrows) to exits.
(10) Periodic surveys of access to exits
• remove obstacles
(11) Study means of avoiding congestion
(12) Avoid gymnasia or structures
with roofs that could collapse
during an impact.
(13) Evaluate interior hazards
(14) Procedure for posting and
disseminating disaster plans
• ensure that all personnel have read,
understood and remembered
• share plans with town officials.
(15) Are all exits safe
for use in all cases?
(16) Plan role of school's
(17) Can school be re-entered
• designate rooms for first aid.
(18) Procedure for contacting parents
and safely returning students to
them if school closes
(19) On-site and off-site liability
custodial liability (in loco parentis)
(20) Acquaint parents with the
school's evacuation plans and
inform them of where their
offspring can be picked up under
particular evacuation situations.
• like hospitals, schools are
critical facilities of great strategic
importance in disaster situations
• the extent of the risk to them is
not fully appreciated by decision makers
• community involvement can
change risk situations for the better
• the solutions are multi-faceted
• high-priority global security programmes
are required, under UN auspices.
Usage and state of maintenance
of buildings change over time but
aggregate vulnerability appears
to remain frustratingly constant.
No school should be without a
properly tested emergency plan.
• hazard investigations, school design
and the observation of building codes
• school construction,
maintenance and improvement
• management and use of schools
• evacuation and the care of children
Common standards are needed for:-