For Atoka Elementary, located in Oklahoma, student safety is paramount. Because of its location, the school regularly faces the threat of severe weather. The school board purchased six bulletproof safe rooms, placing them in areas throughout the school. Installing these rooms is just one way the school is taking proactive precautions on possible threats from an active shooter or from mother nature.
The Atoka Public Schools Superintendent states that previously, students were bused 14-17 minutes away to a safe location in the event of severe weather. Now, there are bulletproof areas in the library, gym and hallways. There are enough bulletproof safe rooms to provide protection for all students and staff, up to 700 people. The bulletproof safe rooms are able to withstand an EF-5 tornado and if necessary, rounds from a rifle in an active shooter event. The total cost for all six bulletproof safe rooms was $400,000.
Cost-Effective, Bulletproof, Weather Protection
Disasters come in many forms, from active shooters to extreme weather. When it comes to increasing school safety across the board, however, some similar strategies can be employed. Many states along Tornado Alley, including Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, and Texas, have built in-school community shelters. These provide a safe haven for large groups of people during tornados and hurricanes.
FEMA has determined that most conventional consumer-grade bullet resistant glazings will not withstand extreme tornado winds. However, other bullet-resistant products will. Rigid bulletproof fiberglass panels (otherwise known as DuPont™ Kevlar® fiber panels) are a perfect example. Individual sheets are available in one-quarter and one-half inch thickness, and are installed much like drywall. But when tested against the criteria of the FEMA 320 standard–which includes flinging a 15-pound 12-foot-long 2×4 into a barrier at 115 mph–a UL-Rated Level 3 sheet of ballistic fiberglass generally outperforms a 6-inch thick wall of stacked plywood. Kevlar® panels are used regularly in commercial and residential safe rooms. For example, when NOAA built their new National Weather Center in the heart of Tornado Alley in 2006, they reinforced its walls with Kevlar® panels.
Want to learn more? Read about how architects use bulletproof glass to protect from harsh weather.
DuPont™ and Kevlar® are trademarks or registered trademarks of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.
Photo courtesy of Justin1569 at English Wikipedia [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons