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​​​​​​​​​​Particular Threats and Hazards

​​​​​​Each location should identify and prioritize potential threats and hazards that might be pertinent to the location. The Emerg​​ency Plan​ should include specific procedures for addressing particular threats (see also Injury and Illness Prevention Program and Workplace Violence Prevention Plan​). For more details on preparing the threat-specific aspects of the Emergency Plan, refer to the REMS Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans (At a Glance​ or PDF​)​, an OSHA explanation​ of an Emergency Action Plan, and the California Code of Regulations standard specifications about Emergency Action Plans.

At a minimum, the Emergency Plan should address fires, earthquakes, bombs, threats that are chemical or biological, and threats or intrusions by shooters, stalkers, or other unauthorized persons. Locations may hire a li​censed security guard company if the need arises using the Security Guar​d Service Agreement. The Emergency Plan should be given to any security guard company hired by a location.  

1. Fires​

The person in charge is responsible for complying with local and state fire safety regulations, including doing the following:

  • Complying with all laws, regulations and ordinances related to fire safety and prevention​​​​​

  • ​​​​​​​​Holding fire drills monthly in each school

  • Holding fire drills annually at all other locations

  • Requiring all people to leave the building during a fire drill

  • Keeping records containing the dates and hours of each drill in a secure place at the location conducting the drill (see "Fire Drill/Earthquake Practice Records" in the Record Retention Schedule, sorted by cate​gory and record type​)

  • Instructing staff and students in fire drill procedures

  • Displaying evacuation plans prominently throughout the building(s)

  • Accounting for all staff and students and reporting missing members to the person in charge or the designee as soon as possible

Every private school building that has an occupant capacity of 50 or more pupils or contains more than one classroom must be equipped with a dependable and operative fire warning system. School alarms must be tested once a month. Activate or pull the fire alarm immediately in case of fire.

As part of the Emerge​ncy Plan, all locations shall maintain an employee alarm system. Different signals shall be used for different emergencies; e.g., a fire alarm should be different from the alarm requiring lockdown.

Locations should have operable fire extinguishers that comply with fire department requirements and are checked regularly. Staff and volunteers should be trained in proper use of the extinguishers.

2. Earthquakes

Each location shall include an earthquake emergency system as part of its Emergency Plan. The person in charge is responsible for complying with local and state earthquake safety regulations, including doing the following:

  • Conducting earthquake drills at least once a semester in schools; conducting earthquake drills periodically each year at all other locations

  • Instructing people to stay away from buildings and utility wires if they are outside

  • Keeping records containing the dates and hours of each drill in a secure place at the location conducting the drill (see "Fire Drill/Earthquake Practice Records" in the Record Retention Schedule, sorted by categ​ory and record ​type​)

The person in charge is responsible for confirming that nonstructural hazard mitigation measures have been completed. Bolt bookshelves, file cabinets, and freestanding cupboards to the wall or arrange them to support one another. Remove heavy items from the tops of bookshelves and cupboards. Attach statues securely in place. Equip windows with safety glass or cover them with protective film. Ensure that partitions, ceilings, overhead lights, and air ducts are secured to the structure of the building. For additional information, see FEMA's information about earthquake pre​​paredness in the workplace​. The archdiocesan Constru​ction Department​​ should be contacted for help in addressing building safety concerns.

See the School Earthquake Res​ponse Plan.

3. Bomb Threats

When a location receives a bomb threat, the primary concern of the person in charge must be the safety of all people in the building.

If the threat is made by social media, preserve the communication and call 911, but do NOT use a two-way radio or cellphones because radio or cellphone signals may detonate bombs. If the threat is by phone, the person receiving the call should attempt to keep the caller on the line. Note the exact time of the call. Get as much information as possible about the bomb and the caller, such as the:

  • Exact location of the bomb, if possible

  • Time that the bomb is set for detonation

  • Physical description of the bomb

  • Type of explosive

  • Reason the bomb was placed at its location

  • Description of the caller's voice: Does the caller sound like a boy, girl, man, or woman? How old does the caller sound? Does the caller have an accent or unusual voice inflections?

  • Background noises: Music, laughter, etc.

  • Phone number or any other information that appears on the phone (for instance, caller ID)

If feasible, have another individual call 911 (not on a two-way radio or cellphone) while the person who received the call keeps the caller engaged on the phone.

See the U.S. Department of Homeland Security information on Bomb T​hreat Checklist​​.

Bomb threat procedures should be part of the location's Emergen​cy Plan and should include the following:

  • Call 911. Use a landline. Do not use a two-way radio or cellphone; their signals may detonate the bomb. Police officers are instructed to respond to such calls without sirens or flashing lights.

  • The person in charge, in consultation with police and fire officials, decides whether to evacuate the building or take other actions.

  • If the building will be evacuated, everyone shall follow evacuation procedures. Students will remain at the designated areas until the building is declared safe or they are released to parents/guardians.

  • No one at the location should touch a suspicious package, box, or device; only the police are responsible for removing or deactivating it.

  • If no suspected bomb is found after an extensive search, the person in ​charge​​​​, in consultation with police and fire officials, decides whether to permit students and/or staff to re-enter the building.

 4. Chemical or Biological Threats

Immediately call 911 to report a chemical or biological threat communicated in a phone call, an email, social media, or a mailed item, or a threat conveyed in person.

The person who receives the threat by phone, by mail, or in person shall attempt to get the exact words of the threat so as to assist the investigating agencies.

If an individual who opens the mail perceives that it contains threatening materials, that person and other people who are in the immediate area of exposure shall remain in place and isolated in case they are already contaminated. If possible, shut down the centralized air/heat system. Call 911 and follow law enforcement instructions; if the suspicious package has not been opened, call 911 and have law enforcement take the lead in opening the suspicious package.

Warn all people at the location, which can be done by using a predetermined secret code, and then shelter in place until law enforcement arrives. Follow law enforcement directions.

If the chemical or biological incident occurs off-site, follow the instructions from law enforcement or other governmental agencies.

5. Intruder Alerts

Violence, whether in a workplace, place of worship, or school, is now a distinct reality in our society. In its Emergen​cy Plan, each location must include the policies and procedures to safeguard against and deal with stalkers, intruders, rioters, vandals, looters, ​demonstrators, protestors, or other antagonists, whether or not they are violent. These policies should include training for all staff members in the following areas:

  • How to recognize the signs of a potentially volatile situation and ways to de-escalate or prevent an incident

  • The best steps for survival when there is an active shooter or other similarly dangerous situation, such as when to fight, flee, or shelter in place

  • How to work with law enforcement during the response

Each Emergency Plan​ should include instructions on lockdown, reporting, and evacuation procedures as appropriate. See the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans (At a Glance​ or PD​F​) from REMS for strategies during active shooter situations. Cal/OSHA has developed an Injury & Illness Prevention Model Prog​ram for Workplace Security on how to address hazards caused by threatening people. The Department of Homeland Security has created the booklet Active Shooter: How to Respond.​​​

3-17-2021​, 6-24-2024