In New London, in 1937, even though the gas had no odor, there were reports that students had headaches and burning eyes from gas fumes in their classrooms. One account describes students sitting in a classrooms with jackets on and windows open to vent the fumes.
As a parent, teacher or school official, you can decide to take responsibility for the children in your school.
Notify your local or state public health department, your local fire/life safety team, homeland security office or emergency preparedness center. (Note: Manuals on the internet give recipes for explosives. They advise readers that the necessary ingredients are easy to find in chemistry classrooms and school storerooms.)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Promote safety in
science, language arts, history, labs, vocational education, occupational health and
safety, community service, school health and injury
prevention, school security, emergency preparedness, environmental
education, civic education, school maintenance and operations. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bring the Lessons of the 1937 Texas School Explosion To Your Schools.
Strengthen Your School's Response to Explosives
Activities and Strategies
[ ] Proclaim March 18 as Healthy Schools Heroes Day.Help raise awareness of the urgent need for responsible leadership to eliminate explosives and other hazards in today's schools so "that schools will be safe and children will come home to their families when their lessons are over." (Nine-year-old survivor Carolyn Jones, in an appeal to the Texas legislature, March 25, 1937.)
[ ] Work with parents, students and staff to develop a "Safety Bill of Rights" for your school. For example:
Parents, educators, and health professionals owe it to children to eliminate environmental hazards that are a source of preventable illness and disability.
Every child has a right to an environmentally safe and healthy home and school.
Schools should serve as role models for environmental safety and environmentally responsible behavior.
Everyone has a right to know about unsafe and unhealthy school conditions and to be involved in efforts to create and maintain safe conditions.
[ ] Celebrate Safety Heroes If your school is a safe one, celebrate the student and staff "heroes" in your school that contribute to school safety. Send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me about the heroes in your school and how they make your school safer.
[ ]Nominate a Healthy School Hero [ ] Break the Silence. Tell their story. Today, no one can fix the broken hearts of New London, Texas but the survivors all take some measure of healing and consolation not only in sharing their stories but also in knowing that their stories teach the importance of taking precautions to prevent a similar tragedy from shattering other school communities. Go to the New London School Explosion website to read the stories of the survivors, witnesses and family members of the victims. Read stories at this link: Recollections. One of the eye witnesses to the disaster was a young reporter named Walter Cronkite. He said, "I did nothing in my studies nor in my life to prepare me for a story of the magnitude of that New London tragedy, nor has any story since that awful day equaled it."
[ ] Tell your story. Encourage parents and others in every school community to break the silence about school hazards and to dispel the myths that excuse inaction. What opportunities for leadership exist in your school?
[ ] Do a chemical safety audit. If your school has stockpiles of explosives and other hazardous materials, your school is not safe. Everyone is at risk for preventable death and injury – not only those in the school at the time of an explosion, fire or chemical spill, but first responders such as fire department crews and volunteer rescuers as well.
[ ] Design an annual exhibit, essay contest, or classroom program about the 1937 New London School Explosion and to highight areas in your school that show your committment to safety.
[ ] Science and technology students can teach safety tips for using gas or the technology of heating and ventilating systems for school buildings. Classroom groups can use school health and safety checklists to find ways they can help make their school and homes safer.
[ ] Environmental education, public service, and environmental leadership programs can develop projects to raise awareness of opportunities to reduce hazards in the school and in the community. [ ] History classes can study the primary source material and discuss the power of individual choices to effect events and how seemingly innocent acts can have enormous consequences. For more ideas see the "Doing History Toolkit" at www.Dohistory.org.
[ ] Language arts or theater classes can create a "reader's theater" from the memories and news stories on the New London School Explosion website Ask everyone to write down their reactions to the stories.
[ ] Be proud to be proactive. Commit to building the school and community partnerships that put a high priority on chemical cleanouts and other precautionary steps. Make posters to promote safe and healthy school values. Suggestions:
If you smell something bad, get out of the lab.
What you don't know about Safety could hurt you
Safety starts with "S" but begins with "YOU"
Practice safety in all you do -- everyone depends on you!
Don't learn safety by accident.
No risk is acceptable if it is avoidable.
[ ] Be inspired. inspire others.
"No matter what our attempts to inform, it is our ability to inspire that will turn the tides." Jan Phillips, co-founder, Syracuse Cultural Workers.
[ ] Don't give up. Advocate for environmental awareness and safety in all administrative and educational programs and activities. Put chemical safety education on the agenda of your PTA, teacher's association, school council, school board, health department, and other community forums.
[ ] Reach out to others. Take advantage of other events to promote safety and healthy schools issues and to educate school community members about the hazards of chemicals such as annual Poison Prevention Week, Inhalant Hazards Awareness Week, and National Healthy Schools Day. Do you have other ideas? Do you have a slogan or idea for a poster? Send it to me at email@example.com
The world endures solely by virtue of the breath of school children. (Talmud)