September 26th, 2006


Why Schools Have Fire/Storm Drills

Mom sent me a post card FOR IOWA inside an envelop all addressed to a local school's teacher, listing a student's family for it to go toward. It was already stamped with a gorgeous butterfly stamp.

I decided to add a message, but not being sure how old the student recipient was, I printed and used small words.

Here's my message:

Today is a perfect fall day! The sky is a blue sea dotted with white puffs of cloud.

Temperatures were comfy for sweatshirts.

Our school's "fire alarm" went off. Half of the building went beep-beep (Storm - go to the basement) while a steady shrill sounded in the other half. We went outside. Better wet in a storm!


Actually, it was a bit more chaotic than that! The elementary went into the interior rooms like the bathrooms (no windows, etc.)

The students from the third floor of the high school/junior high area headed for the basement, bumping into first and second floor signals/students before they'd arrived. That part of the building was receiving the steady shrill squeal that signals "go outside at once."

Since my classroom door is right next to the stairs, we could clearly hear BOTH signals. I heard myself announcing authoritatively, "Go... SOMEWHERE!" Out they went, into the stair well.

Unsure, students began to mill at the bottom of the stairs. We teachers, who first make sure the area is cleared, arrived, and began to shout "outside, outside".

Better wet in a storm than dying of smoke inhalation trapped by fire in a small interior room!

Soon, the principal, hands on hips, stared out the middle door in consternation. We teachers responded by pushing all the students off the roadway onto the gravel, allowing a truck with a neat Morton style building to access the corner stop sign on its way into town, and a semi to turn onto the road from the main part of town to continue out of town.

The principal took a few steps outside, still unhappy. Finally, he motioned us all back into the building.

There, our side of the building met the coach and his fifth graders returning to their rooms from the elementary bathrooms.

"How come THEY got to go outside?" asked one boy plaintively.

High schoolers and their teachers were smiling happily as we headed back into our classrooms for a neatly shortened last hour, courtesy of an unintended "field trip" into the beautiful fall weather.