Emergency Management pushing for safe rooms in all Okla. schools

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s director of emergency management is making a push to put safe rooms in every Oklahoma school.

It’s a mission that follows the tragic deaths of seven children who died inside Moore’s Plaza Towers Elementary School on May 20.

It is an expensive project that is estimated costing each school around $500,000 to $1 million.

Edmond school officials said every school built since 1990 has had a safe room installed.

Many of the schools have safe rooms that double as a classroom.

When a storm threatens, close to 70 students could fill the room.

They are secured by two 400 pound steel, FEMA-approved doors with emergency latches locking students in and keeping them safe.

It’s a feature Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood would love to see in every school in our state.

WATCH: Okla. Emergency Management Director wants storm shelters in all Okla. schools.

Ashwood said, “The important thing is not look at it as some insurmountable task.”

Ashwood said while it will add up to make all of schools in Oklahoma safe, he said believes it’s possible if we combine local bond issues, grants, private funding and state dollars.

Ashwood said, “We all need to sit down and say,  ‘What do we need to do to make this happen?'”

Most districts are now putting safe rooms in new schools; however, a bigger question has been how to make older schools safe.

It’s something Ashwood said he doesn’t have an answer for yet.

“I think we need to look at all options and I think it’s more than people with emergency management and the people with the weather service,” he said. “We are going to need to get engineers involved to talk about ways to retro fit and the options that are out there.”

Ashwood said schools are in the spotlight right now but he encourages all families to consider what it would take to put a safe room or shelter in their home to make sure they have somewhere to go when they aren’t at school.


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