Top 5 Things to Improve the Safety of Your School

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

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

 

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