December 14, 2012 will forever be remembered as one of the most horrific days in U.S. history. It was on this day that a 20-year-old active shooter arrived at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, forever altering the lives of 26 families in the deadliest mass shooting at a grade school in this country’s history.
As horrific as the Sandy Hook nightmare was, the incident also served as a wakeup call to elementary, middle and high schools throughout the country that you can never take school security too seriously. After all, if something like a mass school shooting could occur in Newtown – a city where violent crime was rare – it could happen anywhere. And while Sandy Hook is the prime example when it comes to school shootings, it’s hardly the only one. In fact, since the year 2013, there’s been 173 school shootings in the United States. That’s roughly about one shooting per week.
Is your school building prepared to adequately handle an active shooter situation? While nobody wants to put security systems and employee training to the test, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to safeguarding hundreds of children. It’s why school staff members should go through regular training on what to do if such a situation ever arises. But arguably just as – if not more – important than having professionals that know what to do and how to lead under pressure is having security systems in place that can deter an incident before it even has a chance to happen. On that note, we’ve put together this list of five security technologies that more and more schools are starting to adopt in their buildings. Have a look:
5 Classroom Intruder Locks and Barricade Devices
• Intercom Entry Access: It’s common for intercoms to be installed in every classroom of a school building to enable easier communication between classrooms and the main office, but intercoms can prove valuable beyond this function. For instance, more and more schools are installing them on the outside of main entrances – and complementing them with video surveillance equipment – to help the office better understand whether the individual requesting access to the school building should be permitted access. Security measures such as this help school staff prevent potential danger before it even reaches the door.
• Intruder Locks: Minimally, every classroom in a school should be equipped with what’s called an “intruder lock.” Such locks permit a teacher to secure their classroom door from the inside, thereby preventing access to unwanted guests or, in an emergency situation, an intruder. While intruder locks are considered to be heavy duty, thieves can potentially still access the room either by breaking an adjacent window and unlocking the door themselves or by shooting the lock. On that note, it’s advised to take additional precautions when it comes to individual classroom security.
• Door Lockdowns: In the event of an active shooter, a teacher’s priority is keeping their students safe. And while measures should be taken at the entrance of the school building to thwart such activity before it can escalate to inside of the building, it goes without saying that a teacher’s last line of defense is the classroom door. While it’s always good to secure the door with locks, these can be easily manipulated. That’s where a door lockdown comes in handy. These barricades anchor the door to the floor, are able to be activated in seconds and, arguably most importantly, are able to withstand a high level of force.
• Electronic Access Control: While this is one of the more advanced security measures available to schools today, more and more are beginning to implement electronic access control systems to more quickly order lockdowns in the event of an emergency. Such control systems can be programmed and controlled from any device with Internet access, in most cases. This thereby allows school staff members to either limit or permit access to certain parts of the building where doors are equipped with such technology. Such systems can also be programmed to limit building access to non-students during peak drop off and pick up times.
• Exit Bars: Also commonly referred to as “panic bars,” exit bars are installed on the interior of the door and work to keep the door locked from the outside, but permit easy access when exiting from the inside. In the event of an active shooter situation, exit bars permit a fast and safe exit from a building, and since the doors open toward the outside, exit bars work to prevent any sort of trampling effect. Some exit bars can also be controlled via a control module that will activate locking and unlocking actions.
As we said in the opening, when it comes to the safety of hundreds of children, you can never be too careful. And while knowing what to do in the heat of the moment is crucial, it’s often preventative action that’s the biggest key. Our professionals at Great Valley Lockshop are experienced, professional locksmiths capable of quickly, affordably and correctly installing advanced security measures in school buildings to give students, school staff and parents that extra oomph of protection to thwart would-be intruders and deliver increased peace of mind. For more information on Great Valley Lockshop’s security systems, or to have your school building analyzed, contact the company today by calling (610) 644-5334 or get a free quote online!