When tragic events and emergencies happen on college campuses, it is critical to have a lockdown strategy in place. As an active part of our community, Great Valley Lockshop is honored to contribute to this conversation by providing useful information on how to properly reinforce doorways in the event of a university or college campus emergency.

There are many different measures you may wish to incorporate alongside of door reinforcement. For example, as a pre-emptive measure, your campus may wish to have a hardware audit performed, assign a safety committee, or train staff in lockdown procedures.

However, no matter how tight your policies and procedures are, emergencies tend to happen when they’re least expected. If you ever find yourself in a lockdown situation, these 3 ways to reinforce classroom doors may make all the difference in the safety of the individuals on your college campus.

Implementing Better Barricades:

When a building or campus goes into lockdown due to a security threat, a bar can be placed across the door, which prevents anyone from opening the door and entering. Keep in mind, this also makes it difficult for anyone to leave without removing the bar. Thick metal or wood bars can easily attach to a door frame so no one would have to look for them or move them to the door if they are stored nearby.

Another variation of these bars has a plastic or metal device or loop that covers the lock or handle. However, this approach has some potential safety flaws; while students could be safe in some situations if locked in the room, there could be problems if there is a fire in the room or the room needs to be evacuated.

Implementing Better Locks:

Modern colleges and universities have a range of buildings of different ages, some that are new, some that go back decades. Many were designed years before the threat of armed students/strangers was part of our reality, so they aren’t as secure as newer buildings. Even still, some may not even have doors or locks, if you can imagine that.

This likely also means that there are many different types of locks in different classrooms or other campus offices – some lock from the outside, some from the inside, and some both. Inside locking can be handy for instructors who have keys and want to make sure everyone is safe. Doors that potentially allow an administrator with a master key to lock them from the outside only work if there is enough time and safe conditions for this person to lock every door without putting themselves at risk; it also doesn’t solve the problem of people inside wanting or needing to get out.

If you believe that your college or university could benefit from a hardware audit, get in touch with Great Valley Lockshop today. As university locksmith, we’ve be consultants on college campuses all across Pennsylvania for door, lock and key hardware solutions that create a standard solution.

Implementing Better Wedges:

Another solution is to put a small wedge in the door, which should keep it from opening from the outside, but also makes it easy to remove when the all-clear is sounded. It’s also easier to take one of these out instead of trying to remove a larger bar or latch, or unlock a door. One potential flaw is that an instructor may not remember where the item is when a crisis situation occurs, or it could be easily lost or misplaced, especially if it’s thought of as a door stop for anytime.

Adding These Measures to a Pre-Existing Safety Policy

We urge you to keep in mind that the three measures listed here should always be included with a pre-existing safety policy. In no way should any of these be used as your proprietary security method during a lockdown.

Be sure to get a hardware audit, develop a lockdown strategy with security zones, appoint a security committee, and train your staff to react appropriately.

What Else Can Be Done During a Lockdown?

Fire codes also need to be updated in some municipalities. Though firefighters and emergency personnel want students and staff to be safe, they also may need to easily access every room in an emergency. If there is a fire at a college along with a shooting situation, they may not want to figure out which doors open and which are closed from inside.

Likewise, law enforcement coming into an often confusing, hostile situation usually wants to make sure that every room is secure. Ideally, they may want to verify themselves but it also could be a lower priority if there’s still an active criminal at large.

Officers may also want to consider evacuating students and staff to safer territory, rather than having them remain in classrooms. This move could remove potential hostages or future victims while they focus their energy on the shooter.

Great Valley Lockshop is happy to discuss current best practices for doors, locks and barricades with any PA university or college. We can also provide a run-down of possible costs as well as benefits of different improvement or upgrades. Since 1973, Great Valley Lockshop has offered a variety of residential and commercial security products, along with a strong commitment to service. Contact us at 610-644-5334 for more details!

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