How to Choose the Best Emergency Alert System for Your School

22 June 2024 | By viviedu

School safety is always top of mind for school leaders. Schools today need to be ready for any number of potential situations.

Indeed, emergency preparedness plans must cover everything from a medical or behavioral incident impacting a small number of staff and students to a campus-wide emergency affecting everyone. And the number of incidents appears to be increasing.

According to a recent report issued by CENTEGIX, a wearable safety technology provider for K-12 education, the number of alerts initiated by educators and staff increased 40% in 2023-2024 compared to the previous year.

As an educator or administrator, you know a safe learning environment is non-negotiable. A reliable emergency alert system isn’t just a good idea anymore. It’s a must-have. We’re here to help you understand why.

Why schools must prioritize safety

Schools have a unique responsibility. Every day, they welcome hundreds, sometimes thousands, of students, staff, and visitors through their doors. That’s a lot of people to keep safe, each with their own needs and vulnerabilities.

Natural disasters, health emergencies, and security threats—these are all situations that demand a swift and organized response. The right tools and strategies can make all the difference in protecting your school community.

Choosing the right emergency alert systems

When an incident demands immediate action at your school, the ability to rapidly communicate with every individual—students, staff, and faculty—is critical. How can you ensure that your message is effectively received?

A modern emergency alert system is vital. It does more than send messages; it ensures they reach everyone immediately and clearly. Imagine sending an alert to first responders and notifications across classrooms, offices, and mobile devices in seconds, with visual alerts flashing on digital signage providing clear instructions even amidst noise.

Having all systems work together seamlessly is essential for coordinating swift responses and keeping your community safe during emergencies.

10 features to look for in an emergency alert system or systems

  1. Instant school-wide reach: Quickly reach every individual in your school using a variety of formats or media.
  2. Crystal-clear communication: Choose systems that support silent visual alerts as well as audible alarms.
  3. Multiple communication channels: A system or systems should offer diverse communication options such as SMS, email, PA systems, and on-screen alerts to guarantee widespread coverage.
  4. Seamless integration: Choose emergency alert systems that integrate with each other and with your existing technology, using APIs for automated actions.
  5. Teacher-activated broadcasts: Empower teachers to initiate emergency alerts quickly through a user-friendly interface, ensuring immediate notifications across the school.
  6. Customizable alerts: Look for a system that lets you tailor messages to meet the specific needs of your community and buildings.
  7. Compliant with state requirements: Each state has specific K-12 requirements. Schools must adhere to local laws, such as Alyssa’s Law, which is active or pending in several states.
  8. Enhanced situational awareness: Choose a system that provides a comprehensive overview of emergencies as they unfold, supporting swift and informed decision-making.
  9. Built-in security and control: Security features should include user restrictions and role-based permissions to prevent misuse and ensure appropriate activations.
  10. Ease of use: In emergencies, a straightforward and intuitive system is crucial. Look for solutions that require minimal training and can be operated effectively under stress.

Explore how one school strengthened their emergency response protocols by enabling visual alerts on their classroom displays.

Tips for choosing the right emergency alert system

You know a reliable emergency alert system is crucial for your school’s safety. But with so many options available, how do you choose the right one? Here are a few expert tips:

Don’t wait for an emergency to happen. Explore how Vivi’s emergency notification system integrates with your existing emergency alert system to send visual alerts quickly to every connected display in seconds. Watch the video below to see how it works.