Emergency Preparedness on Campus


With the school year back in full swing, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) encourages teachers, staff, parents and guardians to be prepared for any kind of emergency on campus – from earthquakes to bomb threats.

Campus safety is a top priority. Reviewing safety plans, security procedures, and preparedness measures already in place can help reduce the risks at our schools and the steps you take now can prepare you and your students for any emergency they may face.

Talk to students about disaster/emergency plans at school.

  • Have a conversation with your students about what an emergency could be and how to be safe. Try introducing the topic to young students through pictures and activities.
  • Be familiar with your school’s emergency plan and learn where you can evacuate your students safely if needed.
  • Teach your students how to properly shelter in place and how to take cover.
  • Practice your plan before an emergency so everyone knows what do if a disaster occurs.
  • Talk to parents/guardians about your school’s emergency preparedness plans and encourage at-home preparedness planning.
  • Ensure your student’s emergency contact information is up-to-date and they know who their emergency contact person is.

 Make an individual disaster/emergency plan for students with access and functional needs.

  • Create an individual disaster/emergency plan for all students with disabilities that may need extra assistance in an emergency. Consider the following needs:
  • Notification of an emergency and communication
  • Accessible evacuation routes
  • Personal care assistance and supervision
  • Shelter
  • Medication and medical protocols

Build an emergency kit with essential supplies.

Here are a few items to consider:

  • Medicine
  • First aid kit
  • Bottled water and non-perishable food
  • Local maps
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Consider adding additional items based on your student’s needs.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On

  • California is known for its earthquakes, so it’s best to be prepared. If an earthquake strikes while students are on campus:
  • Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and kitchen cabinets with heavy objects or glass.
  • Do not go outside during shaking.
  • Drop to the ground underneath your desk, cover your head with one arm and hold on to a desk leg with the other hand until shaking stops. If seated and unable to drop to the floor: bend forward, cover your head with your arms, and hold on to your neck with both hands.

Bomb Threats

Bomb threats – and suspicious items – should always be taken seriously. If the building you are at receives a bomb threat:

  • Remain calm.
  • Notify authorities immediately. Call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement if no one is immediately available.
  • For threats made via phone:
    • Keep the caller on the line as long as possible. Be polite and show interest to keep them talking.
    • DO NOT HANG UP, even if the caller does.
    • Write down as much information as possible—caller ID number, exact wording of threat, type of voice or behavior, etc.—that will aid investigators.
    • Record the call, if possible.
  • For threats made in person, via email, or via written note, refer to the DHS Bomb Threat Checklistand DHS-Department of Justice (DOJ) Bomb Threat Guidance for more information.

If You See Something, Say Something

If you see something that looks suspicious or out of place, say something. A suspicious item can be a bag, backpack, luggage, package, vehicle, etc. that provides a reason to believe it contains explosives or other hazardous material that could require a bomb technician and/or specialized equipment to further evaluate it.

  • Remain calm.
  • Do not touch, tamper with, or move the item.
  • Notify authorities immediately. Call 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement if no one is immediately available.
  • Be prepared to explain why it appears suspicious.
  • If no guidance is provided and you feel you are in immediate danger, calmly evacuate the area. Distance and protective cover are the best ways to reduce injury from a bomb.
  • Be aware. There could be other threats or suspicious items.

Preparedness and response are critical for school safety. If you have questions about what to do during an emergency, talk with your school’s administration. Encourage students, parents and guardians to ask questions to ensure everyone understands the plan.