Tragedy, not far from my old home…CT

Dear readers,

I have held off writing about the Newtown shooting for a variety of reasons. First off, as a former Connecticut resident, it hits close to home.  I did not know any of the victims, but I may eventually discover a friend or family member may have. Second, emotions are high, and we need some time to reflect and to heal. 

Remember, when you want to have a reasonable discussion, and make rational decisions, you do NOT do that when your emotions are high.  However, I do have some thoughts I want to share:

To Teachers, who are wondering “what can I do to help make my kids safe?”

It is sad that we even have to discuss such things. But as teachers you’re in a potential target zone. You and your children. Plan accordingly… the following are a few strategies. None of these are full proof. They simply provide an improved chance of survival.

  • Have a means of barricading door.  Preferably something beyond a merely locked door knob which may be forced open. My recommendation to school systems looking to implement such affordably is to drill a hole in the cement floors and cut 10″ long piece of rebar. During an emergency lock-down, teachers would be instructed to insert the steel rod in the hole. This would make it very difficult to force open a door.
  • Erect a bookcase in an area that can shield you and your students. While far from full proof, a large quantity of paper has been known to stop many bullets. With most handgun rounds being stopped under 8″. Even the 5.56 round used in an M16 might be stopped by 8″ of paper. If the perpetrator is unable to get into the classroom and shooting through a wall. A shelf of books may be the difference between life and death.

    The Box of Truth did some demonstrations on the effectiveness of paper.

  • Consider placement of aquariums as well. Particularly plexiglass ones (as glass will merely shatter). Water impede most rounds. And a large 55 gallon aquarium could provide an additional barrier to hide behind. A large bookshelf with a 55 gallon aquarium on the other side could provide a formidable barrier to projectiles.Box of Truth demonstrations on water
  • Keep a couple cases of paper in your room. Hand out two reams each and have your students place them over their hearts or heads. (Or their textbooks.) Yes it may seem silly. But aquarium + bookshelf + reams of paper/books over the heart or head may very well be what keeps a student alive.
  • If allowed, carry pepper spray. Probably not allowed most schools. Consider aerosol sprays (cleaning agents, etc).  It is a lot easier to overcome an individual who is trying to break through a classroom door immediately after they’ve been sprayed in the face. I won’t say hornet spray, but seriously…while totally illegal. I don’t think there is an American in this country who’d object to a teacher using such to keep their students safe.
  • Keep softball bat in a classroom cabinet/locker.
  • If you have fire extinguishers in your room, grab it and be ready. It’s not much, but it can be used to spray, blind and confuse an attacker.  It also works as a blunt weapon for bludgeoning.
  • Firehoses are fairly powerful, I wouldn’t want to face a gun wielder with one. But I would prefer to face him with a hose over nothing at all. If you can be set up around a corner, and hit in the attacler in the face it may give 2-3 of you enough time to tackle and disarm him.
  • I don’t think anyone would mind you praying under those circumstances.
  • Keep your wits, look at what tools are available to you. This last one may be the single greatest asset you have available to you. But remember, our wits function better when they’ve had time to think and plan in advance.

All of these options are poor. I admit that. But they can increase the odds of a teacher keeping their kids safe, and should be considered.  I wish no one had to think about them. But by thinking now, having a plan, you are far more likely to keep your kids safe.


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  1. […] In the past I’ve discussed a few strategies in how teachers can arrange their room in order to provide protection and increase the safety of their classrooms. […]

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