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School Bus Tornado Safety

April 20th, 2017 is Minnesota Statewide Tornado Drill Day. The chances of a bus driver encountering a tornado while on their route is slim, however, drivers should know what to do and what to be aware of. Minnesota’s Severe Storms Awareness Week, will be a good time to review tornado safety plans with school bus drivers and students that ride the bus.

Tornadoes develop in areas where a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is in effect. A Tornado Watch is when the weather conditions in the atmosphere can result in the possibility of developing a tornado. A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted or has been indicated by weather radar. Warnings are issued for counties or communities that are in the path of the tornado’s location, direction and speed.

If a tornado warning is issued in the area, drivers should be aware of the signs of an approaching tornado or storm. Dark, often grey/green skies, wall cloud, large hail and or a loud roar some often relate it to the sound of a freight train. If any of these conditions exist while driving, drivers should take immediate action and seek shelter or stop and pull over.

In the event a tornado is moving toward the area the bus is driving, do not continue in that direction. Instead, the driver should either stop if the storm is close, or retreat at a right angle away from the storms path. NEVER attempt to outrun a tornado that is bearing down on the vehicle. If there is a likelihood the tornado will hit the vehicle, and there is not escape route available, the driver should:

  1. Alert dispatch if time permits, that they will be Evacuating the bus.
  2. Take the students to the nearest ditch. Get as far away from the bus as possible. Take cover on the storm side of the bus, so that the bus will not roll onto the children. Avoid areas with trees.
  3. Instruct the students to lie flat on their stomachs and cover their heads with their hands.

As with all bus evacuations, do not allow students to take their personal belongings with them other than their coats and jackets. These items can be used to cover their heads and bodies from flying debris. If the driver is going to take anything, take the first aid kit. Do not take the children to an underpass. It is not known how much shelter an underpass can provide from flying debris in a violent tornado. Most deaths and injuries in a tornado are caused by flying debris.

If the bus driver spots a funnel and there is no time to evacuate the bus, have the students remain in their seats and lie down below the window covering their heads with their hands. They should shut the bus off and get down away from the door. At anytime there is a house or building nearby that offers shelter and time permits to reach it, use it. Move to the lowest level of the structure away from windows and doors. If there is no basement, use a closet, bathroom or center hallway on the lowest level. Use cushions, blankets, or mattresses to cover the students with. These items will help protect everyone from flying debris.

Once the bus driver thinks the tornado has passed, they should look and listen for further funnel clouds before removing anyone from shelter. Sometimes there can be multiple tornados in one storm. It is absolutely imperative the driver stays calm and keeps the children calm. If the group had to take cover outside in a ditch, return the students to the bus for shelter against hail and rain that can come after a tornado. Attend to any injuries and notify dispatch as soon as possible of their location, any need for paramedics, and what the overall status is after any bus evacuation.

Having and reviewing a School Bus Tornado Safety Plan will prepare bus drivers in the steps necessary to keep the passengers and themselves safe during a tornado emergency. During the week of April 17th – 21st, 2017, the Department of Public Safety and the National Weather Service will be promoting severe weather safety and emergency preparedness information.  This is the perfect time for families, communities, schools, and school bus companies, to review and talk about their emergency plans and how they can prepare for the upcoming severe weather season.


What makes the roads dangerous?

What makes the roads dangerous? Is it the road its self or is it the people driving on the roads? Some would say it could be a combination of the two. I suppose a stretch of highway could seem dangerous if it were a dark, windy road that collects ice when it rains or snows. However, knowing all those things, wouldn’t it fall on the driver to be extra careful and cautious when they are traveling this said highway? Being that a road is a stationary object, never moving unless there were a natural disaster such as an earthquake, wouldn’t it beg to reason the moving object would pose the most danger? So then you have to ask, is the vehicle dangerous, or the operator?

When we take on the task of travel, we have to ask ourselves, “Are we doing this to the best of our ability?” Allowing yourself to become distracted, impatient, and complacent, does not a good safe driver make. You are making the choice to put other people in a dangerous situation. You are choosing to put others lives at risk. If you are one that takes the quality of life for granted, I hope you never have to endure the price, pain and agony felt, when involved in a crash. No matter the injury there is always a price to pay. Not always is there the monetary aspect, but emotional, physical, and mental price. I have been involved in a crash where the other party chose to venture out on the road and drive under the influence of alcohol. That choice he made that night, changed my life forever. I do not know what his life was like before the crash, or what it is like now. What I do know is my life and the life of my loved ones with me that night, has altered our being as a whole.

I am not sure if extra driver training, defensive driving courses or laws banning cell phone use alone would change the way people use the roads. I think people need to change their moral compass. People need to start thinking, caring and making conscience efforts to Do better. We need to begin to use our common sense. Everyone has a lot going on in their lives, but when getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, nothing and no one should take your mind away from just simply paying attention.

Creating safer roads starts with all of us. If everyone practiced what it takes to be a safe driver, everyone on the road would be safe. It sounds simple, almost too good to be true. That’s because it is. Or it could be. Refraining from aggressive driving and using defensive driving could be a start. Knowing the skills and tips to being a safe driver and not using them, defeats the purpose of having them.  Even if you were a perfect, another drivers’ inattention can put everyone at risk.We complicate things when we put the worries of life before the value of life.

7 Qualities of Confidence

  1. Admitting your flaws.  No one is perfect. As much as this is said, no one truly takes this to heart. Confident people not only admit their imperfections, they applaud them. They know where their strengths lie, where they can improve and when to fall back and let others take the lead. Trying to be perfect at everything, is inefficient. Confident people love themselves for who they are – and for who they’re not.
  2. Saying No.  Many people think saying no is rude and off-putting but in reality it is very respectful. Confident people do not over commit themselves or make false promises. They know they don’t have time for everything and would rather tell the truth than not follow through on their word. Also, burnout is not on the agenda. Making time for things you enjoy doing rather than for the sake of others, shows confidence in your ability to care for yourself first.
  3. Listening.  While confident people usually trust their own judgment, they are not above the consideration of other people’s opinions. They won’t always like what they hear all the time, but they won’t throw a tantrum if their opinion is not agreed with. Confident people know how to take constructive criticisms and effectively make adjustments and move forward.
  4. Being open to new friends and experiences.  No matter the past, confident people do not let failed relationships or experiences hold them back. They use those experiences as lessons on how to improve and be a better friend and person in general.
  5. Do not conform.  Confident people are okay with being “different.” They don’t do anything they do not wholeheartedly agree with. They don’t feel pressure by the desire to fit in. Confident people do not mirror others to find their happiness – they look within.
  6. Asking for help.  This is major! Confident people have no issues with ego. They know they cannot accomplish everything alone. They do not feel threatened or belittled by seeking help from coaches, friends, family, etc.
  7. Owning your feelings.  No matter what the circumstances are, confident people strive to understand their emotions and own up to them. Self assured people can express themselves without blaming others and confirm their confidence by hearing and listening to the side of others.

Using these tools in our everyday lives can create balance and harmony in everything we do. You can begin to feel confident in your work place, with your family and with your friends. One of our daily goals should be focused on being better than we were the day before. Remember, you are the company you keep. Surrounding  yourself with confident people you can achieve your fullest potential.