By considering these few points about emergency messaging when visiting your next college campus you may be saving your child’s life! Nothing else on a prospective campus matters if your child can’t be contacted when serious emergencies arise. Safety is always number one!
Emergency Notification systems have been around for a long time on college campuses. They are typically used when the institution has to get information out to the campus community in a fast and efficient manner. Such systems include outdoor speakers capable of being heard over large areas, indoor systems such as audible warnings, special lighting, or LED message boards posted in public areas and newer systems may also include messaging to smartphones. However one of the most tried and true systems is the good old text blast that goes out to everybody’s phone on campus that is signed up for the emergency alerts.
When looking at a prospective college’s alert system here are a few things to consider:
- When touring the campus randomly check cell signal strength. Most notification systems are based on the student receiving a message on their phone. Some campuses you may need to consider changing cell phone providers if your current provider doesn’t have a strong local signal. If they can’t get the message or make emergency calls the phone does them little good.
- Does the college allow parents to sign up for the emergency alert system? While some schools are very liberal and don’t care if parents want to receive the messages, other schools restrict sign-up and only allow staff and students to participate.
- Does the school use the system for non-emergency messages? Studies have shown that schools which use the system to announce bake sales, bookstore hours, social/athletic events, and non-emergency issues have a much lower campus response rate to actual emergency messages. It is best when the system is left for actual emergencies and not campus advertisements.
- Does the system have a fast posting time? When there is a shooter on campus getting the message 30 minutes late is virtually worthless. You might as well have mailed the student a letter.
For Safety Solutions 4 School this is Wayne Silcox
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