Schools are required to have at least one drill per month, including summer sessions with students. Due to geographic location, schools have unique safety challenges. It is the responsibility of school principals and administrators to assess the threats and hazards most likely to impact their school.
See Second Substitute House Bill 1216 (2019–20) for more info.
Basic Threat & Hazard Responses
- Shelter-in-Place—To limit the exposure of students and staff to hazardous materials, such as chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants, released into the environment by isolating the inside environment from the outside
- Lockdown—To isolate students and staff from threats of violence, such as suspicious trespassers or armed intruders, that may occur in a school or in the vicinity of a school
- Substitute House Bill 1941 (2021–22) Session Law adds the following language: “Lockdown drills may not include live simulations of or reenactments of active shooter scenarios that are not trauma-informed and age and developmentally appropriate.”
- Evacuation—To move students and staff away from threats, such as fires, oil train spills, or tsunamis
- In addition, a pedestrian evacuation drill must be included for schools in either a mapped tsunami or lahar hazard zone
- Earthquake—To practice the "drop, cover, and hold" protocol
- The annual October Great Washington ShakeOut provides an excellent opportunity to practice drop, cover and hold on
To ensure that schools practice at least one drill per month, and to allow for response to locally identified threats and hazards, schools may practice basic selected drills more than once.
At a minimum, schools shall document the date, time, and type (shelter-in-place, lockdown, evacuation, or earthquake) of each required drill, and shall maintain the documentation in the school office. Districts and schools may also determine additional documentation sites and methods. Schools must document each drill. Adapt this Sample Drill Reporting Form as needed for local use. Coordination with local fire and emergency responders is strongly encouraged.
Defining Emergency Terms for Schools is a 5-minute video tutorial for Washington schools to assist them in their preparedness efforts.
ShakeAlert is the taxpayer-funded earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States. It is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and operated in conjunction with several academic institutions, including the University of Washington. Public alerting began in Washington in 2021.
ShakeAlert rapidly detects earthquakes and estimates the amount of shaking around the quake. Then, USGS-licensed technical partners deliver alerts to individuals and organizations such as schools. ShakeAlert can provide seconds to tens of seconds of advance warning before shaking is felt. For information on how to connect your school to ShakeAlert, please contact Gabriel Lotto or Bill Steele.
- ShakeAlert Messaging Toolkit for the Education Sector. A general introduction to ShakeAlert with links to many other resources.
- Bringing ShakeAlert into Washington Schools. An article about ShakeAlert that I wrote for the AWSP Washington Principal magazine.