Parental Knowledge of Disaster Preparedness in Schools
Authors: Delon F.P. Brennen, Myra Barnes-Eley and Michael P. Poirier
Abstract: In times of heightened awareness regarding natural and man-made disaster threats, it is imperative that communities and families are prepared for catastrophic events. Research has shown schools are ill-prepared to manage many of these situations and parents are unaware of their children’s schools disaster plans. Objectives: This study was conducted to ascertain parents’ current knowledge of school disaster preparedness. Methods: Investigator-administered surveys that addressed knowledge in areas of preparation, incident response, and recovery were given to parents of school-aged children who presented to a Pediatric Emergency Department (ED). Results: 340 parents were surveyed. 54% of parents felt that their children’s school was not located at or near a potential disaster site. 60% knew of the existence of a disaster plan at the school and 80% did not know where their child would be in the event of an evacuation. 25% of parents did not know if emergency equipment was available at the school and 62% were not aware of the existence of a “crisis team”. Over 36% of parents wanted to be involved in preparing or updating the schools’ disaster plans. Conclusions: Even in the atmosphere of heightened disaster awareness, significant gaps exist in parental knowledge regarding their school’s readiness for disaster. Improving parental awareness of the details of their school’s disaster plan is necessary for adequate readiness for this very real threat.