Summer Safety Tips

Help your children to be safe around water by encouraging them to:
  • Learn to swim as soon as they are ready, usually around age 4.
  • Never run, push, or jump on others around water.
  • Practice the buddy system. Never swim alone and keep an eye out for your buddy at all times.
Parents should:
  • Always watch children near any water, including bath tubs. Do not leave them alone, even for a moment.
  • Use a barrier to keep children away from pools or other bodies of water where adult supervision will not be present.
  • Empty and turn over all containers after you use them.
Biking reminders:
Bike riding can be a fun activity for children, but if they do not know how to ride safely, it can also be very dangerous. You can protect your children by teaching them the following rules:
  • Always wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet and make sure it is fastened securely.
  • Wear light, reflective clothing. For night riding, a bicycle must be equipped with a white headlight and a red, rear reflector or taillight, with additional reflective material on the pedals or shoes.
  • Ride in safe places, such as in parks on bike trails, and on roads with little traffic.
  • Obey the rules of the road. Bikers must stop at all stop signs and red lights, use hand signals when turning, and ride only on the right hand side of the road with traffic.
  • Look all directions for approaching traffic before crossing a street or intersection.
  • Whenever possible, cross the road at crosswalks, and always walk bikes across those crosswalks.
  • Give bikes regular "tune-ups" and safety checks. Just like any vehicle, it is important for a bike to be well maintained.
  • Ride with a friend. It is more fun and much safer since help is there if needed.
- The Hackett Security Team


"Tragedy Unnerves Industry" By Rhianna Daniels, editor - Security Director News

BLACKSBURG, Va.--Although the shootings at Virginia Tech that killed 33 students and faculty members left lingering questions as to whether the university responded appropriately to the situation, many security insiders voiced support of the difficult decisions campus police and administrators made.

Within days after the tragedy, mainstream media outlets broadcasted interviews with parents, students and state officials who criticized the two-hour delay between the shootings at West Ambler Johnston, a high-rise dormitory, and Norris Hall.

What comes of the federal and state investigations into the incident will be revealed in time, but the nation is once again focused on how the country as a whole can better secure its educational facilities, and the student and employees that populate them.

According to a special Security Director NewsPoll, 73 percent of respondents reported that the Virginia Tech tragedy propelled their security departments to take another look at its organization's security and crisis management plans.

"Stakeholders will have discussions about the state of emergency preparedness, go over information that is available and evaluate if changes are necessary in the short term and in the long term," Jim Black, security consultant with TRC Security, said in an interview with Security Director News.

Michael Sherer, chief strategy officer for emergency notification service Send Word Now, experienced the flood of concern first hand as the company was barraged with calls from various educational institutions because they had decided to "fast track" upgrades to crisis management and security plans.

Securing open campuses like Virginia Tech has been a challenge for many security professionals. In our survey, 66 percent of readers said they do not think open environments can be effectively protected from such incidents.

"Open environments cannot be adequately protected, only managed through emergency response systems," said Ron Woodson, director of security and safety for the Center of Forensic Psychiatry. "It would do more harm to even think that an open environment can be protected. It would be a very bad illusion to create such a false sense of security."

Charles Sheridan, a lieutenant with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Police Department, noted in his NewsPoll response that any organization can come up with a plan, training, equipment and funding, "but I don't think realistically anyone can ever fully plan for a scenario that resembles anything like what Virginia Tech endured."

Black said the open aspect of campuses is inherently part of the learning environment and is a hallmark of campus life and changing that is "counterintuitive to the culture."

"Increased security measures may infringe upon the open environment that universities have enjoyed," commented Mark Grabowski, director of safety and security at Southwest Baptist University. "The cost of losing some of the 'open environment' may be the only choice to mitigate the risk of further tragedy."

Click here for the original article location. (Registration required)

- The Hackett Security Team


When The Unthinkable Happens: Responding To A Tragedy On Campus

In the wake of the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech, it is vital that school/campus faculty and staff know how to respond to a violent situation. This type of incident is unpredictable, and your immediate response depends on the situation you face. The following guidelines are based upon the best practices established by law enforcement experts.

| Exit The Building |
  • If it is possible to do so safely, exit the building immediately when you become aware of an incident, moving away from the immediate path of danger, and take the following steps:
    1. Notify anyone you may encounter to exit the building immediately.
    2. Evacuate to a safe area away from danger, and take protective cover.
    3. Call 911
    4. Provide as much information as you can to the dispatcher.
    5. Stay there until assistance arrives.
    6. Individuals not immediately impacted by the situation are to take protective cover, staying away from windows and doors until notified otherwise.
| If You Cannot Exit |
  • If you are directly involved in an incident adn exiting the building is not possible, the following actions are recommended:
    1. Go to the nearest room or office.
    2. Close and lock the door.
    3. Turn off the lights.
    4. Seek protective cover.
    5. Keep quiet and act as if no one is in the room.
    6. Do not answer the door.
    7. Notify 911 if it is safe to do so and provide them with your location and a description of the incident.
    8. Wait for local police or security to assit you out of the building.
- The Hackett Security Team


Smile, You’re on Surveillance Camera - As Reported In The May Issue Of Security Products

Security equipment can help improve the sense of safety at schools

WHEN a student tried to steal a triple-beam balance from Jackie Steinocker’s science classroom, the principal needed the school's surveillance cameras to document the student hiding it in a dumpster.

The student had a friend distract the teacher’s attention as he hid the scientific scale under a winter jacket at the end of science class. Steinocker wouldn't have known that the device was stolen from the classroom if another student hadn't told her about the crime.

If such an incident occurred a couple of years ago, educators would not have had a surveillance camera or security system in place to capture the crime. Proving the case against the student would have been impossible without the video capturing him on camera hiding the instrument.

And what if one of the teacher’s students hadn't come forward to tell her about the theft? With video as proof, the student was expelled from high school and sent to an alternative school as punishment. The district also is billing him for the damage done to the scientific scale.

Steinocker began teaching science more than 30 years ago, when students didn't take high-valued equipment out of the classroom. In her first teaching job in West Palm Beach, Fla., Steinocker could send discipline cases to a principal for corporal punishment.

Times have changed.

A New Age
Schools today face more problems with violence. One government study projects a 6-percent increase in juvenile violent crimes compared to last year. In one two-week period last fall, three schools had separate shooting incidents resulting in seven deaths. The most tragic of the three incidents was when a 32-year-old gunman shot five Amish students before killing himself in Pennsylvania.

"Federal and state governments are increasingly requiring school administrations to be proactive in providing solutions for violence in schools within current operating budgets," said Jack Walser, vice president of business development for The Learn Safe Initiative.

"If you had told me that when I retired from teaching I would be teaching workshops on school safety, I wouldn't have believed you," said Dave Cowell, a consultant with the Law Advisory Group of Avon, Ohio.

To survive the onslaught of federal guidelines and requirements, school districts must adopt some different policies that integrate equipment, processes and, most importantly, a change of philosophy. District officials also must convince their constituents they have provided safeguards to protect students.

"Student enrollments are dramatically changing," said Mike Garcia, senior vice president of sales and marketing for MDI Security Systems. "Parents today have more choices for selecting a school, and one of the deciding factors is the safety and security of the school."

When Robert Duron, the incoming San Antonio Independent School District superintendent was house hunting, one potential neighbor asked if he had school-aged children. When Duron, according to a published report in the San Antonio Express-News, said he had school-aged children, the neighbor suggested he consider private schools.

Because of the safety and perception about the security of its students, enrollment in the SAISD is dropping. More families are moving north to districts like the Northside Independent School District or North East Independent School District. Enrollments at both of the district's newest high schools are being capped because both are over capacity. For Steven High School, Northside school board trustees are considering a policy that will require students who enroll in the district after May to attend high school at another neighboring school.

Improving the Climate
Security integrators can help school districts like SAISD improve the security climate and, more importantly, the perception of school safety through an integrated approach to addressing possible security concerns.

Walser said school district officials and the security team should consider outside traffic patterns of roads near the school. Both groups also should look at hardening entry points and limiting interior access for students, teachers and staff.

"Today, school professionals must work with security professionals to first identify the problems teachers and administrators face in each district," Walser said. "Once they have completed a survey, both the educational administration and their security professionals must build a policy that helps convey a sense of safety."

Cowell said administrators today have to be doubly aware of every visitor who comes into a school.

"Schools are still in the mindset that a shooting incident can't happen here," Walser said. "Because outside shooters can walk in off the street, school administrators should be always aware of the possibility."

Security professionals also have to help school architects in the planning phase of new school design look at possible security concerns, said Ron Orchid, vice president of operations for Global Systems Solutions.

"Most school architects didn't factor in security devices in their designs 20 years ago," he said. "Now, they have to consider the location of security cameras and the wiring needed to connect the equipment to central reporting stations."

With an IP-based solution, schools can easily install the security cameras by adding the technology to Cat-6 wiring used to hook up a school's computer labs and Internet connections, Orchid said.

Helping Discipline
School districts need to understand how security cameras can help discipline today's classrooms. By not having a security camera in Steinocker's classroom after the one student tried to steal a scale, administrators were forced to rely on outside cameras to locate the student, a process which took two hours of teacher prep time. Had the school placed a working security camera in the classroom, it would have taken just a few minutes to locate the five minutes of video when the teacher last saw the scale and when the student decided to put it under his coat.

"Putting security cameras into classrooms is a controversial concept for some administrators and teachers, but the value in documenting crimes and incidents is unparalleled," Walser said. "If a teacher has turned, and the school bully hit another student, the camera can document the incident to the principal and the student’s parents."

Security cameras are not the only solution to make classrooms safer. Walser said school administrators must understand how to use access control products such as proximity cards or readers.

The Learn Safe Initiative executive said schools can use access control products to track the location of each student. The products also can help schools administer daily attendance and manage school lunch programs.

"Students in middle and high school are concerned with status and are sensitive to any stigma that characterized them as impoverished," said Mitch Johns, the president of Food Services Solutions Inc. of Altoona, Pa., regarding how the use of access control cards can help schools increase the participation in the federally funded program.

Johns points to research showing a 15 to 30 percent decline from elementary schools to high school for participation in the USDA National Lunch programs. He believes school cafeteria managers can set up systems where the register reads the student's ID card to see if they are enrolled in an income database that qualifies them for the federal subsidized breakfast and lunch program. For one school system with 4,000 students, a 5-percent increase in the USDA subsidized program can mean nearly $80,000 in additional funding.

Access control cards also can monitor high-value equipment such as classroom scientific scales or computer equipment. Orchid says school districts can place RFID tags onto items for quick location by school administrators.

However, school districts also need to focus on training faculty and staff to spot possible problems before escalating into tragedy. Walser said ongoing training helps schools respond to possible incidents.

A Quick Response
When a student told one of Steinocker’s colleagues a student had a gun in school, the teacher quickly contacted school security to investigate the matter. When the campus security staff found the weapon in the student's locker, the student was taken to an administrator who learned the student was going to shoot a fellow student for taunting him.

"The surprising thing is that most of the incidents of violence have involved kids that have been bullied or who are misfits in school," Cowell said. "It's not the gang kids who use guns in school. These students still have a belief that school will help them better themselves."

As a safeguard to spot possible problems, a former New York high school principal said he recommends schools encourage journaling in English or social studies class. Many students will document possible problems or issues in their journals. Teachers should forward this to the principal, even if it's written in a personal diary.

"You can't safeguard confidentiality when school safety is involved," Cowell said.

Safeguarding schools is an option that requires everyone in the educational process to pay attention to the possibility of incidents.

"Schoolchildren today have to know that if they contact an administrator or security officer, they will respond," Cowell said. "For every school shooting, 100 more have been prevented because the students, teachers or principals spotted a student with issues."

About the author

Matt Scherer
Matt Scherer is a freelance technology marketing consultant based in San Antonio. He is a frequent contributor to security-related and technology publications.

Click here to visit the Security Products homepage.

- The Hackett Security Team


Illinois To Enhance Campus Safety at Colleges :

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has announced three initiatives to enhance safety for students, faculty, staff and visitors at Illinois institutions of higher education. The governor’s initiatives, which build upon his K-12 school security initiatives instituted in 2005, include creation of a task force charged with developing training to help colleges prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies; over $300,000 in grants to improve interoperable communications capabilities on campuses; and the addition of college officials and campus security representatives to the multi-agency Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF), which develops and implements the state’s homeland security strategy.

“We have a responsibility to do everything possible to ensure the safety of all students, from elementary and secondary schools to colleges and universities,” says Blagojevich. “As the senseless tragedy at Virginia Tech last week showed us, tragedy can strike any time, any place, anywhere. Two years ago, we initiated an ambitious effort to ensure elementary and secondary schools are prepared to handle all types of emergencies. This training program has been widely acclaimed and, to date, nearly 900 public and private schools have participated in it. I believe this program provides a solid foundation for the college security training program that I am directing the new Illinois Campus Security Task Force to develop.”

The governor’s campus safety initiative has three components:

  • Creation of an Illinois Campus Security Task Force with members representing community colleges, public and private colleges and universities, proprietary institutions, the ITTF, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Illinois State Police (ISP), the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS), and the Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
  • Immediately provides $330,000 from the ITTF to the Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators to purchase portable Starcom 21 radios, which will provide colleges with interoperable communications capabilities with other responders during emergencies. The ITTF already has distributed more than 1,800 Starcom radios to public safety agencies throughout the state, including law enforcement, fire, emergency management and public health departments.
  • Appoints the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and the Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators to the ITTF. The participation of these groups in the ITTF will also allow other public safety bodies to gain additional insight into the security issues and incidence response requirements unique to college campuses. The ITTF currently has more than 70 member organizations representing state and local agencies, public safety organizations, municipalities with populations over 100,000 and the business community.

If you want to read more about this story, click here, or if you would like to learn more about campus safety in general, visit the Campus Safety Magazine's webite, by clicking here.

- The Hackett Security Team

Tip of the Week By Security Products

Our Security Tip of the Week is from the State Department.
"Your passport is the most valuable document that you will carry abroad. It confirms your U.S. citizenship. Please guard it carefully. Do not use it as collateral for a loan or lend it to anyone. It is your best form of identification. You will need it when you pick up mail or check into hotels, embassies or consulates. When entering some countries or registering at hotels, you may be asked to fill out a police card listing your name, passport number, destination, local address, and reason for travel. You may be required to leave your passport at the hotel reception desk overnight so that it may be checked by local police officials. These are normal procedures required by local laws. If your passport is not returned the following morning, immediately report the impoundment to local police authorities and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate."

For even more tips and news in the industry, visit Security Products online by clicking here