Escuela Viva’s Emergency Preparedness

amelia Community, Community Blog

Many of our families at Escuela Viva have been asking about our plan in the case of an emergency with the recent talk and news regarding earthquakes. Emergency preparedness has always been a very important and integral practice at Escuela Viva. Please see more info on what that means below. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions please feel free to share them with Amelia, the director. Contact info:, 503 282 2091 or just stop by the admin office sometime between 9 and 5. Thank you for reading and being an important contributor to our communities.

Emergency Preparedness

As a team there are several ways that we work to be prepared at all times. First off, all classrooms have the classroom emergency backpack (equipped with first aid and emergency supplies, as well as everyone’s emergency contact information) their sign in and a walkie talkie or cell phone with them at all times (inside or outside of the building as well as when on outings/field trips). Secondly, each classroom has an incident response binder in which there is a complete description of emergency protocol. Every staff member is expected to read and be familiar with this information as well as have current CPR and First Aid training. Drills are practiced monthly, with earthquake drills conducted every other month.

We also spend time reviewing such information annually at our August in-service. At the in-service, Angie, the executive director, provides us with different  hypothetical emergency scenarios to which we practice responding. After each scenario, we reflect on our responses as a team.

Emergency Supplies

At this time we have emergency food, medical and other supplies (radios, lights, etc) and blankets stored in our basement. We are currently working on creating another storage area for emergency food supplies outside as well in the event that we don’t have access to the supplies inside the building. An emergency water supply is equally as important. We are in the process of evaluating the best storage systems for water that will maintain a healthy water supply potentially both inside and outside. If you have experience with this and/or a great systems and would like to share your time and or ideas, please contact an administrator.

Earthquake retrofitting on our building

Our building had a complete earthquake retrofitting when we accommodated this building in 2010. The building was completely remodeled and for this process we had to go through the City of Portland permitting office which required earthquake engineering. The building walls have been reinforced with metal plates and earthquake approved metal screws (all visible in our basement, the main stair case leading into the basement and the exterior wall of our building facing the parking lot as well as the playground wall). The flooring joists and subfloor are all placed diagonally and additional plywood sheathing put in place in the attic to counter act front to back and side to side movement.

Your Part as an EV Parent

Please ensure that your emergency contact information is up to date at all times. It is also important that you ALWAYS sign your child in or out as the sign-ins act as our role call and in the case of an emergency we will fall back on this information to indicate which children are in attendance. Teachers regularly monitor this and will make sure children are signed in, though the responsibility first lies with the drop off and pick up individual.

We recommend that each family create their own emergency plan. We require all EV staff to have a family plan in place and on file as many of our teachers have children of their own. Family plans include a plan for which family member will pick up the child, where the family will meet and a plan for communication with one another. It is suggested that an out of state contact person be designated because following an earthquake the long distance phone lines are usually the first to be back in service. If possible each family member should check in with the out of state person to receive news from the others as well as update them on your status. There are more ways to be prepared and connected with your neighboring community members. Please see a few of the resources listed below for more information.

Resources for your own Emergency Preparedness Planning 

Portland Bureau of Emergency Management
Sign up for public alerts on the above site and more…

PREP Oregon
Planning for Resilience & Emergency Preparedness


11 thoughts on “Escuela Viva’s Emergency Preparedness

  1. Your ears must have been burning! Our family talked about this yesterday. Since cell phones, landlines, etc will not be functioning and there is not a way to communicate with the school, do we just assume you will keep the kids at the school (if it is safe) until all the parents pick them up? I will be fording the Willamette a la Oregon Trail and Kevin will be coming from Wilsonville. We are solidifying a more sustainable plan…

    Thank you for caring for our children and providing this much needed information.

  2. Thank you, Amelia! I don’t have a good answer for water, but what we do at our house is store four 5-gallon containers of water in the driveway. I refill them every 6 months and add a few drops of bleach. I also store a pretty good camping water filter in the backyard in our earthquake kit. I would be willing to help research or discuss water storage for EV as I’m also working on that for my work.
    I’d also like to know: what is EV’s legal responsibility and own policy about staying with the children in an emergency?

  3. So glad to hear the building was retrofitted! Thanks for this information and I’m curious to hear your response to Natalie’s question as well. Thanks for all you do!

  4. Yes, our legal responsibility as caregivers is to stay with the children. This is, in big part, why we require each of our teachers to have a family plan of their own. We would stay here on site until all children are picked up. If the building was inhabitable or we needed to evacuate or go off-site for any variety of reasons, then we would go to St. Francis which is our off-site evacuation spot we would relocate to the field on the corner of SE Stark and 12th (Washington School field). At that point we would work to contact the Red Cross.

    Natalie, thank you for the water container suggestion. We are probably going to go this route of using 5 gallon water jugs that we can fill and store inside as well as out.

  5. Slightly off topic… does anyone know what PPS teachers’ responsibilities are? Brady teaches for PPS and he doesn’t even know, but he thinks it might actually just be to stay there during school hours. That’s kind of screwed up that he doesn’t know; I don’t think they’ve communicated this at all. But he works at a high school, so maybe that’s partly why – the older kids are more able to take care of themselves.

  6. Oh last thing (and I haven’t done this yet…) EV should also have water heater strapped to wall, and know how to turn off the gas line.

  7. Yes, part of our drills and practice are to know how to turn off the water main, gas line and electricity. All of the auxiliary staff are aware of where those are and how to do it. The water heater is strapped to the wall. Now I just need to work on my own home!

  8. Check into the large water-storage barrels made by Nutristore. The BPA-free 55-gallon size is good for a home, you might want a larger side (or just a lot of those) for school. They are sold by Costco Online (check with me if you are interested by not a member…)

  9. Yes to the 55 gallon barrels! We just bought one that you siphon the water out of. It has a filtration system and you can keep the water in it for several years without changing it. Sorry that I do not have the brand. Kevin purchased it on Amazon for about $100. We keep it in our garage as well as food. Hopefully St. Francis is doing the same because when our neighbors are not prepared they will be coming to us for help. It would be good to know how they are preparing.
    At Sunnyside Environmental school teachers have gone through the classrooms and made sure there cabinets are velcrod to the walls. The documentary “Unprepared” done by OPB features SES and some of the planning they have done as a school. Natalie, the teachers at SES have to stay with the children until they are picked up.
    Finally, Amelia is there a need for more emergency food?

  10. Thank you Tina for the info, super helpful! As far as emergency food, we do need plenty more! There is a bin in the lobby.

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