Is Your School Outdoor Safety Plan Up to Speed? 3 Questions Administrators Have to Ask Themselves
Outdoor Safety is Weather Safety
Your school outdoor safety plan isn’t complete until your factor in severe weather safety. Many times, schools and universities underestimate the severe weather danger. We don’t blame you; We know there’s a lot to worry about. But this outdoor sports season is the perfect time for you to step up the outdoor safety plan at your school. The key is setting it up the correct way.
Just as often as schools overlook weather threats, they also rely on outdated, downright dangerous safety precautions. Optimize your school safety plan by asking these 3 critical questions:
Flash, Bang, What?
Lightning safety infractions start at the top and work their way down. Some professional sports leagues like Major League Baseball don’t have a lightning policy. The NCAA doesn’t even have a lightning policy rooted in technology. So it’s easy to understand why some high schools and elementary schools don’t have comprehensive lightning policies either. Just because other schools are compromising their students’ safety when it comes to lightning doesn’t mean it’s OK.
For example, the NCAA‘s website says that “lightning awareness” should be “heightened” when you observe lightning, thunder, or other signs of a storm. Their policy states that if there is lightning within 8 miles of stadium the game must be postponed until 30 minutes lightning free, but if there is no technology at the stadium then all of this timing is left to the human eye.
How is that safe? Schools need to start vamping up their safety plans by relying on actual technology to monitor storms and other severe weather conditions. No one is perfect, and often times the decision-maker is under a lot of stress to keep a game going even though a storm is imminent. Lightning alerting systems that rely on actual, real-time total lightning data are the best way to support your decision-makers. That’s because these systems make the decision for you with flashing lights and loud horns.
Does Weather at the Nearest Airport Really Help?
Most schools get their weather conditions from the nearest airport. So how close are you to yours, really? Even when you watch the weather on the news, a lot of the time those conditions are coming from a location that dozens of miles away from your school and the students you’re in charge of protecting.
Up your school outdoor safety plan by utilizing hyperlocal weather data from a trusted, extensive source. It’s no secret that weather stations closer to your school and (even better,) located at your school, produce more accurate forecasts than those miles away.
Does it Feel Too Hot to be Outside?
If it does, chances are it actually is. While most people think of thunderstorms when they hear the term “severe weather,” extremely high or low-temperature count as severe conditions as well. During the spring, summer, and fall, high temperatures can threaten your athletes’ wellbeing and cause many different forms of heat illness, including heat exertion stroke.
Relying on reading the temperature isn’t enough to know when it’s safe outside. There are more factors that go into the “real feel,” than just basic temperature. Heat index goes a step beyond temperature by measuring humidity but you can get an even more accurate view by monitoring Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT)
WBGT improves your school outdoor safety plan by giving you the most accurate temperature to make heat-related decisions on. The most difficult aspect of monitoring WBGT is finding a weather station that measures it. The infographic below should help you read and react to WBGT at your school.