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In-Service Safety Series
In-Service Safety Series
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XI. Catastrophic Weather Conditions

  1. Now we are going to talk about the last set of adverse weather conditions - catastrophes
  2. What we mean by catastrophes are those situations that:
    1. Occur occasionally without much warning
    2. Require a particular and immediate response from the school bus driver
  3. We are not talking about hurricanes or volcanos because there is warning when these are approaching and you shouldn't be driving in those conditions
  4. Other than hurricanes and volcanos, what would constitute a catastrophic weather situation?
    • Flooding and flash floods
    • Lightening
    • Tornado
    • Earthquake]
  5. Flooding and Flash Floods
    1. What you should know
      1. Watch for flooding conditions any time there has been heavy rain or snow melt, even in places where water does not usually accumulate
      2. If the ground is saturated, flooding may occur even if there is not heavy rain or significant snow melt
      3. Water can come from torrential rains somewhere else and cause flash floods
        1. It may not even be raining where you are
      4. You should NEVER go through water on the road, whether it is standing or moving
        1. Don't take risks
        2. Even if you are familiar with the roads, don't drive through water on the roads
        3. You can't see the danger
          1. There may be debris, tree branches, power lines in the water
          2. The roadway or bridges may have been washed away
    2. What you should do
      1. Before you drive
        1. Check the weather report, where you are and upstream
        2. Listen for news reports of storms or a flash flood watch or warning
      2. On your route
        1. Stop
        2. Seek high ground; get away from the water
        3. Call dispatch and request assistance
    3. Review local policy and procedures
  6. Lightning
    1. What you should know
      1. Lightning can occur within a rain storm or when there is no rain
        1. Lightning can strike miles from the storm
      2. Chances of lightning hitting a bus are slim
        1. It is safer inside a vehicle than outside
    2. What to do
      1. Before you drive
        1. Check the weather report, where you are and elsewhere
        2. Listen for reports of storms
      2. On your route
        1. It is a good idea to stay off the radio
        2. Have everyone stay away from the sides of the bus
        3. Stay on the bus
          1. Don't evacuate
          2. The best place to be is inside a home or large building or inside an all-metal vehicle because these are grounded
        4. When unloading during lightning, get as close to the structure the student is going to as possible
          1. This may mean driving through the subdivision and unloading at each home
        5. If you are in an area where the lightning is “bouncing” around, you might want to keep the students on the bus until the storm passes
      3. Review local policy and procedures
  7. Tornado
    1. What you should know
      1. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground and moving
      2. Tornados develop in warm, moist air in advance of an eastward moving cold front
      3. The danger of a tornado is highest when the temperature is between 65 and 84 and the dew point is above 50
      4. Tornados often accompany severe thunderstorms
      5. Tornados occur in almost every state; mostly east of the Rockies
      6. Look out for
        1. A dark, often greenish sky
        2. A wall cloud
        3. Large hail
        4. Loud roar
      7. Most tornados move southwest to northeast
        1. However, in the upper Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic states, tornados move northwest to southeast
      8. If the tornado doesn't appear to be moving, it may be moving toward you
    2. What you should do
      1. Before you drive
        1. Check the weather report for tornado watches or warnings
      2. If you are in the bus and see a tornado, evacuate
        1. To a building; this is your first choice
        2. To a deep ditch; this is your second choice
          1. Lie flat on your stomach with hands over the back of your head to reduce neck injury
        3. As a last choice, to the lowest place you can find
        4. DO NOT stay in the school bus; move far enough away from the school bus that it can't topple on you
      3. Make an evacuation plan for your route
        1. All along your route, identify homes with basements, storm shelters, or other places where you can take cover
      4. It's up to you, the school bus driver
        1. Your students must know how to evacuate the school bus
        2. You must have practice drills to make sure that the students know the evacuation procedure
    3. Review local policy and procedures, including local policy about when buses won't be allowed to travel due to the threat of tornados
  8. Earthquake
    1. What you should know
      1. Earthquakes can happen in most parts of the country
        1. California is the most well known but only 5 of the 10 worst earthquakes have happened in California
        2. Others happened in Hawaii, Alaska, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico
      2. You won't know there is an earthquake until it is happening
      3. You may feel shaking or see damage
    2. What you should do
      1. Stop in a safe place
        1. Off the roadway
        2. Preferably in an open area
        3. Definitely not under
          1. A bridge
          2. An overpass
          3. Other structures
          4. Tall trees
          5. Street lights or power lines
        4. Avoid downed power lines
      2. Assess the condition of the students
        1. Find out if there are any injuries
        2. Keep the students on the school bus
      3. Calm the students
      4. Assess the superstructure around you and determine whether it's safe to continue
        1. Don't drive into a devastated area
        2. If you can't proceed, keep students on the school bus and the door closed
      5. Contact dispatch if possible
      6. Move away from waterfront areas
    3. Review local policy and procedures
  9. Are there any questions about how to handle catastrophic situations?

XI.A - Display Slide #17

XI.E - Distribute Handout #10,
Catastrophic Weather Conditions


XI. Remind participants that their first preference should always be to avoid an adverse weather situation. This module deals with what to do if you haven't been able to avoid it. You will discuss those situations where the school bus driver has to decide what to do.

XI.A. Tell participants that all the information covered in this section will be on a handout which you will distribute shortly.

XI.D. Earthquake isn't really a weather condition but it is a non-manmade catastrophic situation.

XI.E. Distribute Handout #10, Catastrophic Weather Conditions. Review it with the participants.

XI.G.1.f.2 A cloud system that may develop a tornado has a particular formation. One of the early clues is the presence of a low flat cloud base from which little visible precipitation is falling. When part of the rain-free base lowers, it is called a wall cloud. The wall cloud indicates the storm's strongest updraft area and it is the primary location for severe weather development. A wall cloud with persistent rotation denotes a very dangerous storm that may produce large hail, strong down bursts, and a tornado.

XI.G.1.f.4 Many people report that a tornado sounds like a freight train.

XI.G.2.b. DO NOT evacuate to under a bridge or overpass. This area can become the equivalent of a wind tunnel. People under a bridge or overpass can be hit by flying debris or can be sucked out.

XI.G.2.d. EMPHASIZE the responsibility the school bus driver has for evacuating students properly. The school bus driver must know the policy and procedures for evacuation and the students must have participated in practice evacuation drills.

XI.H.2.d. Superstructure includes roads, bridges, power lines, etc.

XI.H.2.f. After an earthquake near an ocean, there is a very real danger of seismic sea waves.

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