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September 2019

Children walking down the stairs in a school showing the importance of school safety

Back to School Safety Tips

By | Education, safety & security Films, window film | No Comments

The school season is back in full swing across America, which means school safety is on everyone’s mind. Whether you’ve been tasked with creating a back to school safety plan to stop an active shooter, or you’re simply looking for school safety ideas to keep your district’s students out of harm’s way, this article will help introduce you to the top tips experts suggest for enhancing safety at school during back-to-school time and beyond. 

Do you have specific safety questions? Get fast answers when you ask the school safety window film experts at NGS, one of the leading window film installers in America. 

Harden Your Glass

According to the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, a key finding for school security lies in the use of better glass protection. The Sandy Hook Advisory Report recommends the following, because a school’s glass is its most vulnerable area.

  • “Design windows, framing and anchoring systems to be shatter-resistant, burglar resistant, and forced entry resistant” 
  • “Resistance for glazing may be built into the window or applied with a film”

Applying window film or using virtually shatterproof “glass” lookalike technology can maintain the sunlight required for effective learning, yet protect students and staff from shooters and other hazards, such as explosions, storms, and high-speed flying debris. 

Some of the most popular methods for hardening school glass include: 

3M Ultra 

A thick, yet fully transparent window film with various levels of tinting and frame anchors, 3M Ultra can resist attack from bullets, bats, rocks, kicks, and other aggressive entry methods

Watch the Houston ISD Police Department combine more than 100 hits from bullets and bodily attacks as they spend more than 6 minutes trying to break through 3M Ultra film: 

Riot Glass

When you want virtually shatterproof windows, Riot Glass is your answer. This innovative solution looks just like glass and is attractively installed using a nearly invisible rail mounting system, yet it keeps attackers and would-be intruders out of your building to increase safety at school. 

Check out how Riot Glass stops intruders: 

TRI-SHIELD

Providing a triple-layer of shatter-resistant glass protection that includes a solid door anchoring system to keep glass firmly attached to its frame, TRI-SHIELD delivers effective school safety at a fraction of the cost of many other solutions

Watch TRI-SHIELD stop an intruder: 

Obscure Line of Sight

Keeping intruders out of your building is only half the problem. If school safety issues arise from someone who is already in the building, it’s important to block their progress. 

Intrusions, attacks, and active shooter situations inside a school can be mitigated by privacy window film such as 3M Fasara decorative films or 3M Mirror Film. 

3M Fasara

Available in a very wide variety of patterns and styles, including privacy-friendly etching, fogging, and engraving, 3M Fasara lets light in but blocks the view for uninvited onlookers. 3M Fasara can be used in any lighting situation and on any glass surface, and can also be cut into shapes, swirls, or your school mascot – so your school safety window film does double duty as a school spirit booster. Window graphics may also help block line of sight. 

3M Mirror Film

One way mirror film from 3M offers classrooms a clear view out of the room, but displays an impenetrable, security-friendly mirrored view for outsiders looking in. This film is ideal for small classrooms and spaces, or for adding privacy to portions of rooms, but call in an expert before making your decision because it only works in specific lighting situations. 

Perform Regular Drills

They say: “practice makes perfect” and that concept applies to school safety as well. School safety window film provides the physical barrier required when creating a school safety plan for active shooters, but drills help your students, staff, and visitors understand how they can use these safety tools to their own advantage in an emergency. 

Effective active shooter training for schools includes making sure everyone in the school knows how to react and where to go during a crisis and, during drills, you can reinforce emergency information with clear signage posted throughout the school on windows, walls, doors, lockers – even on floors! 

Products such as 3M Envision and 3M Controltac affix to virtually any surface, indoors or outdoors, to help you designate school safety zones and direct school occupants throughout your buildings (even in low-light situations). They’re also one of those great school safety ideas that work especially well in non-school district buildings that don’t often run drills. 

Other safety and drill procedures that can help improve school security include: 

  • Self-defense training for teachers and staff
  • Mandated memorization of school floorplans and layout, for both students and staff
  • Strategic classroom setup, including natural barriers near the door, teaching as far away from the door as possible, and creating a quick entrance blockade option for lockdown situations
  • Non-standard drill procedures, such as evacuating through classroom windows or initiating lockdown drills during lunch
  • School closed-door policies with intercoms and camera verification at the entrances and locked classroom doors

Increased counseling staff and a focus on student bullying prevention strategies 

In addition, schools can benefit by learning about how security film and film anchoring systems work – and discover why there is no “one size fits all” method that covers all your doors and windows. Check out the security film training video below: 

How Can You Prevent School Shootings?

Your district’s teachers are in charge of educating children. The various school staff members are in charge of taking care of paperwork, advising students, supporting students’ health and wellbeing, and making sure your community’s children have well-balanced, healthy meals each day. However, Facilities and Maintenance professionals like you may have the hardest task of all

Without secure schools, students and teachers won’t feel safe or focused, the district will have a difficult time filling critical supplementary staff positions, and parents will worry about their children while they’re attending their day-to-day classes. 

In other words, it’s up to you to prevent school shootings – and that’s a heavy responsibility to have. 

Although there’s no way to predict when and where a school shooting will occur, there is a way to protect your community’s children while they’re at school. Preventing school shootings largely relies on stopping active shooters in their tracks, and the best way to do that is to harden your buildings’ security against the worst-case scenario

 

Continue your research into school security tactics when you access the resources available on our School Safety page. 

Students walking down a school hallway showing the importance of school safety

Top 5 Things to Improve the Safety of Your School

By | Education, safety & security Films, window film | No Comments

We’ve all imagined the scenario. After Parkland, after Sandy Hook, after Columbine, we’ve all thought, “What would happen if a school shooting happened here?” 

Perhaps you thought of it as you were preparing your district’s buildings for the new school year over the last month – while you were cleaning all that glass in the front, refinishing the floors, and painting the walls and lockers in the long, echoing, empty hallways. 

It’s enough to make your heart start hammering. 

The fact is that, these days, we all must accept that school shootings are at least a possibility in any school, in any district… but, luckily, it’s within your power to keep your students and staff safe

Here are the top solutions schools around the nation are using to strengthen their security and protect their students. To help you easily prioritize, we’ve listed these items in order of effectiveness. 

Impact-Resistant “Glass”

When you’re wanting to keep active shooters out of your school buildings with truly shatterproof windows, the absolute best solution for blocking them is to use impact-resistant technology that looks like glass, such as Riot Glass. 

As you can see in the video above, Riot Glass provides a virtually impenetrable defense against would-be intruders to your school. Plus, because of its nearly invisible rail mounting system, Riot Glass doesn’t stand out as an obvious security measure, thereby maintaining your schools’ aesthetics and welcoming façades. 

Shatter-Resistant Glass Films

Because it requires replacing the existing glazing, most schools choose to only install Riot Glass in the most vulnerable entrance points to their buildings. However, an active shooter may choose to sneak into a school using a window. If the shooter has already been admitted to the building lawfully (as in the case of a student shooter), the shooter can gain access to locked rooms by breaching interior door or window glass.  

To protect against active shooters inside the building, it’s a smart idea to strengthen windows and interior glass features using extra-strength glass bonding adhesives and films

Untreated glass typically prevents intrusion for a mere 67 seconds, but leading solutions provide 42 layers of tear resistance that can hold your existing glass windows together for a surprisingly long time – even if a shooter tries to break the glass by hitting and shooting the glass more than 100 times. 

Not sure if a window film can truly hold up against an active shooter? Check out this video, in which the Houston ISD Police Department tests various thicknesses of 3M Scotchshield Ultra safety and security films and is unable to breach the glass after 6 minutes and 15 seconds, 69 bullets, and 87 direct hits. 

Solutions such as 3M Scotchshield Ultra safety and security films paired with innovative 3M impact protection adhesive, create a virtually shatterproof security window film solution that also provides superior protection against storms, explosions, and flying debris. Choose a film that passes ASTM E 1996 / E 1886 Missile Level C rating to keep your district’s students safe inside your buildings during some of the worst natural and man-made disasters. 

Privacy Window Films

Of course, active shooters don’t have to breach glass and get inside a room or a building in order to do harm. With sniper rifles, they can shoot inside classrooms from a hidden, exterior location, or they can simply aim and fire into a classroom from that hallway you carefully painted this summer. 

An effective way to block sniper or distance attacks is to install privacy and reflective films throughout your buildings. 

3M Mirror Film provides the privacy classrooms need without blocking light or making rooms feel closed in. By creating a one-way mirror effect, students, teachers, and visitors can see out of the classroom, but an active shooter can’t see in. (However, 3M Mirror Film only works in specific lighting and isn’t usable for all situations. Learn more about 3M one way mirror film specifications.

To block a sniper’s view from outside the building, many schools choose to install reflective films, which maintain privacy inside a building during daylight hours and also provide significant energy savings. 

Clearly Marked “Safe Zones”

If your schools face an active shooter situation, one of the first actions you must take is to move all building occupants into safe zones and impose a lockdown. Regular drills are critical for orderly lockdown procedures, but we all know how chaotic the lockdown situation would be if a real threat were roaming the hallways. Children aren’t known for their cool approach to emergencies. 

To ensure the safety and security of all students and staff, as well as school visitors unfamiliar with the lockdown procedure, many school Facilities and Maintenance Managers are choosing to install clear signage throughout the school – on doors, floors, walls, and glass surfaces

3M Envision and 3M Controltac graphic signs can be installed on any surface, indoors or out, and can include anti-skid overlaminates that help students maintain their footing if the sprinklers soak the floors. These signs can also be manufactured with reflective lettering and images for low-light situations in a power outage or lights-out attack. 

An Atmosphere of Safety and Orderliness

Of course, one of the best ways to keep your school safe is to promote an atmosphere of welcoming safety and security throughout all school rooms and buildings. This means you must remove graffiti immediately on all surfaces, including on windows, doors, bathroom stalls and mirrors, administrative office countertops, and other areas that students often vandalize. 

However, we understand that removing constant graffiti can feel like a losing battle. 

To help make your maintenance activities faster and easier, 3M offers a variety of products, including anti-graffiti laminates that make it possible to simply peel off graffiti, etching, and spray paint, quickly and easily – from glass and other smooth surfaces. 

To restore cleanliness to vandalized bathroom stalls, many districts turn to 3M DI-NOC architectural film, which resurfaces metal doors (and a variety of other surfaces) within hours, at a fraction of the cost of remodel or replacement. 

Keep Your School Safe

School safety requires a different kind of critical thinking and it can be hard to get in the habit of viewing school rooms as “areas of vulnerability.” Worrisomely, many district Facilities and Maintenance professionals may overlook key areas of attack because they’re focused instead on the many other concerns that school buildings have, such as accessibility, aesthetics, HVAC, and plumbing. 

Concerns like these are important for the day-to-day functioning of a school but, as we’ve all seen time and again, aesthetics, HVAC, and plumbing considerations mean very little in the event of an active shooter situation. In worst-case scenarios, you need to limit access to your buildings and classroom, so you can protect the students and staff who are hiding inside. 

They’re counting on you for shelter. 

 

Get an expert security assessment for your district’s buildings. Contact NGS, the industry leader in safety and security film solutions, to schedule your district’s free school security evaluation now