Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Emergency Drill

We had a sun-shower and beautiful rainbow at my second school this morning. The kids weren't nearly as thrilled as I was. Of course I didn't have to get out in the rain. :-)

By law in NY we have to have our first evacuation drill within the first five days of school. My drills didn't go well yesterday. The older group got out very quickly but fully half of them refused to sit and slide opting instead for squat 'n hop. I was very lucky that nobody twisted an ankle. My new bus sits much higher than any other bus I've had. I had one new kid respond to a couple of my questions with "Who cares?" The second time he yelled, I calmly told him that I care and that if I have to turn off the radio and give daily safety talks to make him care too, I will. The other kids quickly shut him up for me.

With the little ones I only covered how to get out the back door. It took them way too long to get out. (I need to be able to clear the bus in well under two minutes, it took them three.) Even though I only had six kindergarteners, I have quite a few new kids. I think after they start doing the daily front door drill they will do better at just following each other and not bunching up in the aisle. In a couple of weeks I'll try to get permission and the help I'll need to run the drill again. Meanwhile I have lots of stuff to cover with them and only about five minutes a day so we'll go over a little bit at a time.

If you have a child that rides a school bus do they know how many emergency doors their bus has, where they are located and how to open them? Most kids will not count the front door as an emergency exit but that is the preferred exit if it is available! Ask your child if they know how to open the doors. The door at the back and the one(s) in the middle have a red handle that pulls up, you push the door open as far as it will go and on most newer buses the door will lock in the open position. What most kids can't tell you is how to open the front door. If their bus as a manual door they may tell you that you push the button and swing the door arm out. It isn't a button, it's a thumb rest. They have to pull up on the hand-hold and then swing it out. If their bus has an air door they will probably tell you that there is a switch next to the driver and there is. But they may not be able to reach it or it may not be working. They need to know where the air release valve is and it is in different places on different style buses. If they don't know tell them to ask their driver! The pictures below are of just a few of the dozens of styles of buses in use across the country.

Typical side door exit.

Rear door. On some transit style buses there is a large emergency window instead because of the rear engine.

Manual door control

The next 3 are all emergency relief valves. All are located in different spots. Varies for different model years and manufacturers.


  1. I had never realized everything a bus driver needs to do until I started reading your blog!! My boys took a school bus to school when they were young but I don't recall them ever saying that the bus driver ever gave them a safety I guess that's why I never thought of what you have to go through! I read Kerri's post about you and your sister's visit with wonderful for all of you:-) Having just met NatureGirl in person, I know what a fun time it is!! xox

  2. There must be so much to teach them.
    When we were in Alaska, every bus we rode for a tour had a safety talk before we could leave. We've never had that in the past.

  3. First off Woo Hoo! You changed to full feeds. I am excited about that. I love your site. Your's was the single only site I read with a partial feed and has a full one. Smiling...

    I linked into this post. Your photo examples are great. I sometimes wish our district took the safety stuff more seriously, but we just do the minimum. I do some extra teaching, but nothing too serious.

    I do teach kindergarteners how to open the door...if they don't get that lesson in kindergarten with me. They don't get it. I do it at the school while we wait. I have them all up front and they love talking, so we talk about bus safety almost each morning. I think they are the most safety smart students on my bus and I hope they retain it as they grow.

    I mostly am giving my sit down speech here as of lately though.

  4. important things to know. i'll ask mine when they come home.

  5. What Pea said.... never knew about a bus driver's daily life until I started reading your blog, Apple.

    I have no idea what the rules are in Seattle, but am sending a link from this post to my daughter-in-law.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. Pea,
    We had a great time meeting Kerri & Ross. Maybe your boys had drills but you got the "oh, nothing" answer when you asked what they did that day. lol

    I'm shocked and good for them! I've been on dozens of bus tours and they've never gone over anything. Knowing what I know I've been scared witless a couple of times.

    Figuring out stuff for the blog is a struggle. I didn't know I needed to change my feed until someone complain on my genea-blog.

    Thanks for the link. I'm glad you're teaching more than the minimum required! If we can teach the littlest ones well they'll remember even 10 years from now if they need the info I hope.

    I hope they said "Of course we know how the exits work. What a lame question!"

    Hi Annie,
    I hope your grandkids also already know!

    I am often shocked when reading the news or talking with people from other areas of the country. The news reports about the bus that was on the bridge when it collapsed really scared me. The kids were older in that case and didn't know how to open the rear door and the exit was blocked besides.

  7. Apple, I hope there are a lot more bus drivers out there who are as diligent as you about safety rules. This is a great post and the pics are excellent. It's good to have this brought to our attention. Thanks.

  8. Thats very interesting, I don't think they have such escape drills here in the UK, I've never heard of them anyway. Bob.