Two years ago, the Sandy Hook school shooting reminded us that places we assume are safe, like our children's schools, can quickly become centers of trauma. For parents whose children were caught in the school, a lack of emergency preparedness only worsened an already chaotic situation.
Now, Save The Children is taking a closer look at just how ready schools are to handle emergencies like Sandy Hook, natural disasters and acts of terrorism in the recently released 2014 Disaster Preparedness Report. In response to Hurricane Katrina, the federal government outlined four basic emergency standards required of every state in 2010. The report measures each state's ability to meet the standards, which require emergency protocol in all childcare facilities and K-12 schools. This year, states are still failing to meet even the most basic requirements.
"This report is a wake-up call," Kathy Spangler, Save the Children’s vice president of U.S. programs told the Weather Channel. "American parents say they’re concerned about risks their children face from school shootings and natural disaster. Yet, our poll also shows most parents know little about emergency plans at their child’s school or child care -- and that they’re failing to take basic actions to protect kids at home."
According to the report, 21 of the 50 states don’t require schools and childcare providers to have basic emergency plans, and 67 percent of parents don’t know if their child’s school practices emergency drills frequently, Save The Children reports. Two states don't meet any of the national standards, and eight states only meet one standard.
Stories that emerged in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting reinforce the importance of disaster preparedness. "We were told by three different people to look for our daughter in three different places," Sandy Hook parent Alissa Parker told Save The Children in the 2013 disaster report.
These ten states ranked worst in the U.S. for emergency preparedness -- two states met zero of the state requirements, and eight only met one.