Merced County Office of Education


Emergency Prepardeness Guide


A major emergency may occur anytime or anywhere. It may be a natural disaster such as flood, earthquake, severe winds or tornado. It may be an accidental disaster such as a chemical spill, fallen aircraft, a fire or industrial explosion. It could also be an intentional disaster such as a bomb scare, violence, arson, or nuclear attack. In any time of general disaster, lives can be saved if people are prepared for the emergency and know what actions to take. The objectives of this guide are:

  1. To provide a standardized plan for the Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) to meet both moral and legal responsibilities to their students, staff, fellow citizens, the community, and the State and Federal governments in time of emergency.
  2. To provide for consistent and effective action to minimize injuries and loss of life among students and staff in case of natural or accidental emergency situations.

This guide should be read and understood well in advance of any possible disaster, so that responses to various situations will be quick and effectual. It is hoped that this emergency plan will never have to be put in action, but if the use of this plan saves just one person from injury or death, it will have been worth the effort.

I endorse this plan, and advise all MCOE personnel to be familiar with the policies and procedures addressed.



  1. California Constitution, Article I, Section 28(c). This section guarantees all students and staff the inalienable right to attend schools which are safe, secure, and peaceful.
  2. Labor Code, Section 6400. This law mandates that every employer furnish a place of employment which is safe and healthful for the employees.
  3. California Education Code, Sections 35295, 35296, 35297. These sections require that schools with enrollment of more than 50 students, or more than one classroom establish an earthquake emergency system. This includes a school disaster plan, quarterly (or every semester in a secondary school) "duck, cover, and hold" drills, and earthquake preparedness education.
  4. California Education Code, Sections 32001-32004. This section mandates each school site with 2 or more classrooms and 50 or more students to have a fire alarm system. The Code requires monthly fire drills for elementary and intermediate-level students, and twice-yearly fire drills for secondary students.
  5. Government Code, Section 3100. This code specifies that whenever a "state of emergency" is declared by the Governor, public employees can be declared "disaster workers."
  6. California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Chapter 1, Article 3, Section 101174. This section says that each child care provider must maintain on file a current , written disaster plan.
  7. MCOE Policy No. 2007. This policy stresses the importance of maintaining the safety of the MCOE's employees and students, and proclaims MCOE's intention to abide by all applicable Federal, State, and local safety regulations.



  1. Be in overall charge of the situation. Give evacuation orders and delegate responsibilities, as necessary.
  2. Check the status of students, staff, facilities, equipment, supplies and other resources.
  3. Confer with police, fire department, and city officials regarding the situation.
  4. Determine plan for continuation of operations following a disaster.
  5. Notify administrators and media so that parents are informed of the situation, and of the MCOE's plans.


  1. Appoint guards, as necessary, to see that no unauthorized person goes back into buildings until they have been declared safe.
  2. Assess their area(s) of responsibility and report to the Superintendent.
  3. Announce location of disaster and first aid centers. Direct the distribution and use of disaster-related and medical supplies, equipment, and information.
  4. See that parents and relatives are notified as soon as possible of any serious injury.
  5. Release students and staff, according to the Superintendent's directive.


  1. Remain with their class group, or report to a disaster center, if available, or the office if they do not have a class.
  2. Take roll. Send notice to the administration immediately regarding any student who is not with the class group, noting possible whereabouts. Take roll periodically throughout the disaster period.
    1. Note on class roster the name of anyone, who for any reason leaves the class group; to go to first aid center, disaster center, home, home of authorized person.
    2. Be specific in noting names and addresses of those to whom students are released if other than parents. Note day and time child was released.
    3. Record any unusual behavior or any first aid given.
  3. Be in charge of obtaining first aid for their students.
  4. Encourage students to talk about their experiences and feelings. Talking gives anxious children the means to vent their apprehensions and psychologically adjust to the disaster.
  5. Remind students that they are in perhaps the safest place possible under disaster conditions. Fill in time with games, songs, stories, exercises, and rest periods.
  6. Report to the principal or administrator when all students have been released.


  1. Assist the injured with first aid and other care.
  2. Help staff the emergency first aid center when it has been set up.


  1. Check water, gas, and electricity. Turn off utilities as directed.
  2. Assist in any fire-fighting or recovery activities.
  3. Assist in setting up or constructing emergency facilities.
  4. Secure all MCOE buildings.
  5. Perform other duties, as required.


  1. Provide for the preservation of essential records.
  2. Monitor emergency radio broadcasts.
  3. Guide volunteers to locations where needed.
  4. Perform other duties, as directed.



"Air pollution episodes" occur when the level of air pollution is harmful to public health. Air pollution episodes are declared by the San Joaquin Unified Air Pollution Control District. Episodes are categorized from less to greater severity in stages "1," "2," and "3." Strictest adherence to the following guidelines should be observed during stage 2 or 3 episodes. During episodes, the following precautions shall be observed:

  1. Strenuous outdoor exercise activities should be avoided, or restricted to the early morning or late evening, if recommended by the air pollution control district. Teachers should substitute easy, non-competitive activities or indoor activities in place of events such as running, soccer, or football.
  2. Remain in air conditioned indoors until episode is ended. Keep windows and doors closed.
  3. Do not smoke and avoid areas where smoking is permitted.
  4. Avoid traffic congested areas where pollutants are being generated.
  5. Avoid contact with persons suffering from respiratory infections.
  6. Avoid aerosols, dust, fumes, and other irritants. Reduce activities that produce irritants to the nose, eyes, and lungs such as cooking, hobbies, or cleaning.
  7. More information may be obtained from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, 1999 Tuolumne Street, suite 200, Fresno, CA 93721-1638, (209)497-1000, FAX 233-2057.



  1. Try to ascertain as much information form the caller or sources as possible, noting caller's voice (sex, age, tone, and whether it is familiar or not). Any background noise should also be noted. Responses to the following questions should be noted:
    1. When will the bomb explode
    2. Where is the bomb right now
    3. What kind of bomb is it
    4. What does it look like
    5. Why was the bomb placed
  2. Notify the Police Department immediately (911), then notify the site administrator.


  2. Notify the Police Department, then the administration.
  3. If it is decided to search the building before evacuating it, an informal search should be made by volunteer staff familiar with the building, assisted by the police when they arrive.
    1. In particular, rooms such as mechanical rooms, janitor's closets, storage rooms and rest rooms should be searched.
    2. Should any suspicious item be found, it shall not be touched until investigated by the police.
    3. If any suspicious item is found, the building must be evacuated immediately.
    4. Students and staff should not return until authorities declare the area safe.


  1. Command "drop, cover, and hold" is given. Teachers should instruct students to react in the same manner on their own to this type of catastrophe in case it occurs when the teacher is temporarily not present. The Education Code explains drop procedure:
    "Drop procedure means an activity whereby each student and staff member takes cover under a table or desk, dropping to his or her knees, with the head protected by the arms, and the back to the windows. A drop procedure practice shall be held at least once each school quarter in elementary schools and at least once a semester in secondary schools." (California Education Code Section 35297).
  2. Move away from windows or other potential hazards (i.e., bookshelves, file cabinets, etc.).
  3. Get under a desk, table, other shelter, or against an inside wall.
  4. Assume drop position and be silent so directions can be heard above the noise of the earthquake.
  5. Stay in drop position until earthquake is over or until further instructions are given.
  6. After the initial shock has subsided, evacuate the building(s), being alert to the possibility of aftershocks.


  1. Get clear of all buildings, trees, exposed wires, or other hazards that may fall. The safest place is in the open.
  2. Assume the drop position until quake is over.
  3. After the earthquake, if on the way to school, continue to school. If on the way home, continue home.


  1. Render first aid, as necessary.
  2. Assist physically handicapped or injured persons.
  3. Take roll: account for all students and staff. Teachers will take classes to pre-arranged places on the playgrounds and will remain there until re-entry to the buildings has been approved, or are directed to take the children elsewhere, or the children have been picked up by parents or other authorized persons.
  5. Custodians or designee will check for utility leaks and notify their site administrator, who will call the utility companies, as necessary, in case of a leak or suspected leak.
  6. Notify appropriate emergency agencies (911), and direct further action as required.
  7. Students and staff should not re-enter buildings until authorities (i.e., a building inspector or structural engineer) declare them safe.


  1. Earthquake preparedness shall include a "drop procedure."
  2. The California Education Code says that a drop procedure is, " activity whereby each student and staff member takes cover under a table or desk, dropping to his or her knees, with the head protected by the arms, and the back to the windows." E.C. 35297 (b).
  3. Earthquake drills will be held no less than once each quarter for primary and intermediate students.
  4. Earthquake drills will be held no less than once each semester for secondary students.
  5. The school principal or coordinator shall document all emergency drills.
  6. Copies of all earthquake drill documentation shall be forwarded to the MCOE safety officer.


The purpose of any evacuation is to empty a building or area of all occupants as quickly and safely as possible. When the order is given to evacuate, occupants should proceed to the designated assembly point(s) shown on the site evacuation map. (See specific site evacuation map, as applicable).

  1. If no map is available, evacuate to the nearest clear, open area such as a parking lot or playing field.
  2. Take roll: account for all students and staff.
  3. Notify Superintendent or designee.


The following steps should be taken in the event of an explosion or threat of explosion, such as those by leaking gas or a faulty boiler within a building:

  1. Command "drop, cover, and hold" is given. Teachers should instruct students to react in the same manner on their own to this type of catastrophe in case it occurs when the teacher is temporarily not present.
  2. If the explosion occurred within the building, or threatened the building, the students and staff should immediately leave the building as soon as it is safe to do so.
  3. The site administrator shall sound the school or site alarm, or notify all personnel via telephone or other available means.
  4. Move to an area of safety. Teachers shall maintain control of students.
  5. Render first aid, as necessary.
  6. Fight small fires, without endangering life.
  7. Take roll: account for all students and staff.
  8. Notify the Superintendent or designee.
  9. Notify the utility companies of a leak or suspected leak.
  10. Notify the Police and Fire departments, (911) and direct further action as required.
  11. Students and staff should not return until authorities (i.e., fire department, police, etc.) declare the area safe.


  1. When necessary, take immediate action for the safety of students and staff without waiting for directions from administration.
  2. Students and staff will be kept at a safe distance, allowing for POSSIBLE EXPLOSION.
  3. Notify police and fire departments (911).
  4. Notify administration.


  1. Evacuate building(s). Sound the local fire alarm, if available, or notify all building occupants using intercom, telephone, public address system, or any other effective means.
  2. All fires must be reported immediately. Fire emergency number (911) will be called and location of fire given. Person who is reporting fire must stay on telephone line until released by fire department personnel.
  3. Notify:
    • Fire Department 911
    • Police Department 911
    • Superintendent 381-6601
    • Maintenance 381-4555
    • Facilities 381-6612
  4. Maintain control of staff and students at a safe distance from the fire, away from fire fighting equipment. Instruct students and staff to face away from the building in the event of explosions.
  5. Keep access roads open for emergency vehicles.
  6. Take roll: account for all students and staff.
  7. Render first aid, as necessary, and await further instructions.
  8. Students and staff should not return to the building until the Fire Department officials declare the area safe.


  1. All employees must know the location of fire extinguisher(s) and other emergency equipment in their work area.
  2. Fire extinguishers shall be inspected and serviced at least once per year. Fire extinguishers must bear current tags as approved by the California State Fire Marshal. Tampering with fire extinguisher(s) is forbidden.
  3. Fire extinguishers or fire exits must not be blocked by supplies, stock, or parts at any time.
  4. Smoking or open flame is prohibited near areas where flammable materials are used or stored.
  5. Fire drills will be held no less than monthly for primary and intermediate students, and no less than twice-yearly for secondary students. (E.C. Sec. 32001).
  6. The school principal or coordinator shall document all emergency drills. Copies of all fire drill documentation shall be forwarded to the MCOE safety officer.


The possibility of flood in this area is improbable, but possible if local reservoirs fill beyond capacity, or should other sources create flooding. The site administrator or designee shall be responsible for seeing that students and staff are in a safe area. Depending upon the nature of the flood the following actions will be taken, as appropriate:

  1. Provide care for students at the school or site.
  2. Evacuate the building and send students or staff home.
  3. Direct students to be transported to areas of safety, as coordinated with the County Office of Emergency Services, or other applicable agency.


This could include tank truck or train accidents involving toxic gases, or other release of hazardous materials.

  1. Determine the need to leave the building or grounds.
  2. Evacuate the building(s) or area(s), if necessary.
  3. Move crosswind--never up, or downwind--to avoid fumes.
  4. Control students at a safe distance.
  5. Render first aid, as necessary.
  6. Take roll: account for all students and staff.
  7. Notify Superintendent or designee.
  8. Students and staff should not return until authorities declare the area safe.


  1. All medical emergencies will be reported immediately.
  2. The medical emergency number (911) must be called and location and description of emergency given.
  3. All medical emergencies will be reported to the supervisor.



  1. 1. Imminent attack shall be determined by:
    1. Receipt of warning from the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) through the National Warning System.
    2. Confirmed information that hostile forces have been detected and are committed to attack against the North American Continent.
    3. Confirmed information that an Allied Nation or a United States territory or possession has been attacked with nuclear weapons.
    4. Confirmed information that an attack has taken place within the North American Continent.
  2. 2. Dissemination:
    1. 3 minute warbling, or series of short blasts, on a public warning device.
    2. NORAD Monitor Radio Receiver or Emergency Broadcast System.
  3. 3. Actions to be taken:
    1. Take cover.
    2. Monitor Emergency Broadcast radio station for official information and instructions.
    3. Take precautions to minimize the possibility of persons being struck by objects such as glass.
    4. Take roll: account for all students and staff.
    5. Plan quiet recreational activities that will relieve tension.
    6. Remain inside until other action is advised or directed by competent authority.


  1. Notify site administration.
  2. Secure equipment and documents.
  3. Wait for instructions from the administration.
  4. Emergency phone numbers:
    • Maintenance 381-4555
    • Superintendent 381-6601
    • Assistant Superintendent of Business 381-6625
    • Facilities Director 381-6612
    • Pacific Gas and Electric (800)743-5000


The National Weather Service can usually forecast windstorms to a high degree of accuracy. If time and conditions permit, students and staff may be released to go home prior to the emergency. However, if a tornado or high winds develop during school or work hours with little or no warning, the following emergency procedures will be followed:

  1. Students and staff should take cover inside buildings.
  2. Close windows and blinds.
  3. Remain near an inside wall. Avoid auditoriums, gymnasiums, and other structures with large room spans.
  4. Keep tuned to local radio or TV stations for the latest advisory information.
  5. Take roll: account for all students and staff.
  6. Notify administration and utility companies of any utility leak.


  1. Make every effort to keep students within classrooms.
  2. Doors, windows, blinds, and/or drapes are to be closed and remain closed until the problem has been removed. Teachers will lock classroom doors.
  3. Students outside shall be quietly and quickly sent into the building.
  4. Teacher must remain in charge of class.
  5. If necessary, students shall be held inside until notified by the administration.
  6. Staff members not assigned a class at a particular time are to report to the main office.


  1. Staff members shall give first aid to victim(s).
  2. Area in which act(s) occurred will be sealed off immediately.
  3. The site administrator or designee shall be in overall charge. Site administrator or designee shall call for appropriate emergency assistance such as police, fire, medical assistance, etc.
  4. Site administrator or designee shall immediately notify the Superintendent or designee.
  5. Counselors shall report, upon request, to the site of the violence.
  6. Media contact shall be handled by the superintendent, site administrator, or Public Information Officer.


  • COUNTY SUPT. OF SCHOOLS (209)381-6601
  • TOXIC/CHEMICAL SPILLS (800)424-8802
  • POISON CONTROL CENTER (800)346-5922 (209)445-1222
  • RED CROSS, ANTIOCH (415)754-6080
  • RED CROSS, CONCORD (415)687-3030
  • RED CROSS, FRESNO (209)486-0701
  • RED CROSS, MERCED (209)383-2150
  • RED CROSS, MODESTO (209)523-6451
  • RED CROSS, STOCKTON (209)466-6971
  • PG&E (800)743-5000