Wind chills and fire drills

First of all, I tend to think of the “wind chill index” as some weird thing that somebody with too much time on his hands thought up. What, it’s not really that cold, it just FEELS that cold? I guess when I skidded on an icy Texas bridge in 42-degree weather it was because the bridge, being exposed to the west Texas wind, just felt colder. And the reason food manufacturers have fans in their blast freezers is so the newly cooked frozen goods will feel colder so they will freeze faster.

Anyway. So it’s 11 degrees F, and windy. My kid lives close to school and I don’t usually spoil him by driving him unless he has a big project to take…but I did it. Dropped him off at 7:25.

At 7:50 the idiot fucking school HAD A FIRE DRILL. They refused to let the kids get their coats because, heh, in a REAL FIRE they wouldn’t be able to. They kept them out on the school grounds for THIRTY MINUTES in ELEVEN DEGREE WEATHER with a STIFF WIND and NO COATS. Some of them weren’t even wearing long sleeves (and this comes about because the dress code prohibits certain things, like logos, hoodies, and images bigger than one inch, so if the kids wear things like this to school they take them off and store them in their lockers).

What the fuck were these people thinking? If the school were actually on fire in weather like this, at least they could get close to it and keep warm. Shit.

Actually the school was so abashed by its actions that, in fact, it sent a letter home with the kids, explaining it all. My kid managed to get home with his homework but lost the letter–which he didn’t read first–so I have no clue what their line was but…

FOR GOD’S SAKE!!! If you did something like this to prisoners of war it would be against the Geneva conventions, I’m pretty sure. Eleven degrees? Wind? THIRTY MINUTES?

Then, just after lunch–at which time it was still windy but had warmed up to a relatively balmly 16–the fire alarm WENT OFF AGAIN. This time, there was a certain amount of resistance on the part of the majority of students, and those who happened to be walking by their lockers anyway were allowed to get their coats, and they weren’t outside for quite as long.

Personally, given the choice between standing outside in windy 11-degree weather (that’s Fahrenheit, I will remind everyone again, so it’s way below freezing) and staying in a building that was on fire, I myself would probably stay in the building.

What kind of sadists are runnning this school anyway?

It’s not very weird at all. It’s the difference between temperature and heat transfer. Since this has been covered about 100 times on here I refuse to say anything further.

My company had “9/11” drills for a while, every quarter, rain or shine, and they were incredibly inconvenient. Especially because it could take more than an hour to determine if everyone was out of the building. The first few times about 1/4 of the employees wouldn’t leave the building, seeing as the drills inevitably happened during a rainstorm, when it was -5F (non wind chill) out, or something like that. So a memo went out from the CEO saying simply “Anyone refusing to participate in the 9/11 drills will be immediately terminated.” Given that most of my co-workers are living paycheck to paycheck groaning under a $500,000 mortgage, 2 car payments, and 4 screaming kids that Jesus directly ordered them like Gunnery sergeant Hartman to have, they fled the building like banshees the next drill.

Myself, if I know there’s a drill that day and it’s bad weather, I stay home.

The last fire drill I remember having when in school happened in the winter of my senior year. It was either January or February. Massachusetts. I’m not sure what the temp was but I know it was cold enough that I was bothered by it. I don’t usually start the mind the cold until it gets into the negatives.

Anyway, there was a blizzard that day. The Worcester Public School System has a standing rule that they will cancel school for .5-1 inch of snow. For 1-3 inches, they will give a 1 hour delay. For 3-6 inches, they will give a two hour delay. For 6-whatever inches, school will be in session for the entire day. Friggen idiots.

So, we had already had a few snow days that year, and each time, The Powers That Be looked like idiots because by late morning there was no accumulation and the sun was shining. So on the day in question, they decided that no matter what, they would not cancel or delay and there would be no early release.

By 10AM, we had over 1’ of snow. They still refused to do anything.

Around noon, the jackasses in charge of my school had a fire drill. They did not allow anyone to go to their lockers for coats. I was one of the lucky ones. I was in a class that took place in the middle school. So, I had my coat with me - for the walk from one building to the other. The students were outside for at least 15 minutes. I’m not sure how much longer it went because that was my limit. After those 15 minutes, I found the principal and told him that as an 18 year old, I had the ability to dismiss myself. I exercised that right and walked to my mom’s house.

I also had a job which ran a LOT of fire drills. They would have a least 1 per month. They always happened in shitty weather. The last one I remember, wasn’t even a drill. The alarm system was being repaired. No one bothered to tell us though. We were in the middle of what seemed to be a monsoon. Five fucking times those alarms went off. And five fucking times, we were all ordered to go outside. After the fifth time, so many people refused to leave the building that they finally called the company president who said, “oh yeah, I guess I forgot to tell you about the repairs.” Asshole. By that point, we were all hoping the building would burn down because it would at least give us a chance to dry our clothes. My boss had told me that the company was fined by the fire department for that fuckup.

This can’t be right.
For small amounts of snow, school’s canceled for the day, but for larger amounts there are only delays?

This shows a very dangerous flaw in the schools evacuation protocols. If this was a real fire what would have happened, they children would have frostbite, hypothermia possible death.

It is good that this has happened under controlled circumstances, You should bring it to their attention that their procedures are not sufficient and they may be creating a bigger problem this needs to be addressed and corrected before someone gets hurt or dies.

Beware of hijack!

The depressing thing is that I was only slightly kidding. What happens is that in the beginning of the shitty weather season (early to late November) everyone freaks out because of the slightest amount of snow. So, school gets canceled for ridiculously small amounts. As the year progresses, the school department realizes that they’ve been stupid and that we’re running out of snow days. This means that either we suck it up and go to school in crappy weather, or we stay in school later into the summer.

So, what you have in the end is a few snow days with no actual snow and a few school days with a large amount of snow. The people making the decisions aren’t the ones actually hurt by them. The kids and teachers who have to go to school in 1’+ of snow suffer. The parents who have to arrange babysitters or stay home from work, when there’s 1" of snow, they suffer too. But, no one ever asks their opinions on what should be a snow day. They usually figure things out by late January or early February. You’d think that in a place like New England, they’d be use to making snow day decisions. Nope. It’s like those people who cause accidents in early winter because they “forgot” how to drive in snow.

In the first grade, I had no idea that there were such a thing as fire drills, and I have no idea if parents were notified beforehand. One February day they had a firedrill that took us by surprise. Out the door we went to stand in line in the snow, no coats, and for almost all of us… no shoes! Standing in the snow!

We were not allowed to wear our snow boots in class. And for some reason, only two people in class had slippers, the rest of us were just in our socks. I can’t remember why, it had something to do with keeping the floors clean in winter. Like, rather than police the students to makes sure the footwear we had indoors had never been outside in the slush, it was easier to simply say “no shoes”. Or maybe little kids take too long to put their indoor shoes on and it was wasting time. I’ve no idea what the rational was, or even if it was an official rule, but I remember in winter it was “no shoes” until I was in the third grade.

I’ve no idea how long we were standing out side in the snow, but my feet were hurting so bad from the cold it felt like hours. Someone must’ve gotten in major shit, because the next winter fire drill we were allowed to put our boots on.

I want to say that I think you’re exaggerating, but I can’t.

The students have to be kept near the school, at least until after post-evacuation head counts have been done.

Perhaps an additional step for a fire drill and fire response should be considered: Send the buses to the affected school to give the students an immediate shelter, but one that will still keep them in a relatively compact area, allowing for head counts to be made.

Just brainstorming, but I can’t see any obvious flaws on my first brush with it.

Though, for the OP, think of it as good training for fire alarms in college where some drunk idiots think it’s funny to pull the alarms at 3 AM. Every night, for a week.
On preview: I didn’t go to Worcester Public schools, but I did go to a school that got busing for some of the students via the schools, so while my school wasn’t directly under the aegis of the Superintendent of Schools, we often shared snow days with the Worcester schools. congodwarf is, IMNSHO, only slightly exaggerating.

That kind of behavior is the best possible endorsement for having fire and evacuation drills. Incident after incident, long before 9/11, has taught us that people don’t take these things seriously, and should an event occur, they will die. Unless they treat every drill and incident seriously before they know if it’s “the big one,” they will not be ready when the big one hits.

Of course the situation described in the OP sounds like an emergency in and of itself, even though it was supposed to be a drill. Mishandled drills can be dangerous too.


Post 9-11 that has been called into question also, at least grouping students in on location with easy access to the public. Think: terrorist calls in a bomb threat, school evacuates, terrorist drives by school and tosses bomb towards/launches rocketat/shoots/drives SUV over the students.

How do you know it was a planned fire drill?

Sounds like it was an accidental alarm - the kids had to stay out longer than usual and the alarm went off again. That doesn’t sound like a fire “drill” it sounds like a fire “alarm.”

I can believe it. When I was in school, up until my last year or two the school board I was in covered five different counties (later it was subdivided into two smaller boards), or roughly one third of the province. Nova Scotia is a small province, but still, that’s a lot of ground, especially since two of those counties were near the valley region, which tended to get a lot more snow than where I was. Usually, instead of closing certain schools, the entire board would have a snow day, and I swear all the officials making the decisions had to be in the aforementioned valley region. This meant we often had snow days with little to no snow (literally, we hadn’t seen a flake in at least a week), and occasionally school days with a fair bit. For where I was, it certainly didn’t make a bit of sense when we did and didn’t have school during the winter. (further hijack–once a couple students asked a teacher if he thought we’d have school the next day, when a fair bit of snow was being forecast. His response? “If we do I’ll stand on my head and recite a poem.” We have pictures to prove he actually did it.)

To expand on what congodwarf said: The school administrators usually have to make the no-school calls the night before a storm is forecast to hit, based upon what the weather people are predicting.

Predictions for snowfall accumulations can be tricky in Massachusetts because weather systems coming down from Canada, across the continent, and up the coast tend to collide over the area. This produces wildly changeable weather and often high uncertainty in the actual track and outcome of any particular storm. Add to that having an ocean on our east, another influence on the type and amount of accumulation. A storm rolling in from the Midwest, wrestling with a cold front roaring down from Canada and a warm front rising up along the East Coast, could change from snow to rain, dump a foot or more, or miss us entirely, depending on the course it takes. And that course can change from hour to hour.

So, yes, school administrators do wind up with frozen egg on their faces from time to time, but they have reason to.

Even if that scenario does play out, I’d still argue that the importance of being able to say whether there are any children unaccounted for in a building overrides the lower probability threat from terrorism.


I am more and more convinced that we, as Americans, and the West in general, are accepting far too many accommodations to the possibility of terrorist attack. There have been a number of changes post 9/11 that were reasonable, IMNSHO, but the vast majority are useless, or offer benefits that are not commensurate with the sacrifices being demanded.


They do? That doesn’t really jibe with all of those days when I was a kid and woke up early to turn on the radio to see if my school was delayed or canceled. Unless there had been a massive snowfall forecast with 100% certainty, or it started the night before, the reports would kind of trickle in as districts made up their minds. Often the two-hour delays would change to cancellations from one report to the next if the snow didn’t let up.

And why do you think they don’t take them seriously? Probably because it’s always a drill. It’s kind of like The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Walking out the door ain’t rocket science. Terrorism drills are pretty damned pointless.

Hear hear. The only reason to turn on the fire alarm when there isn’t some sort of actual emergency is so that people know what it sounds like.

On the first day of each month, they test the air raid sirens in Hawaii. That way, everyone knows what they sound like and that should they go off at any other time, something is actually wrong.

That is a much more sensible approach than the system here - every Saturday at noon the civil alert sirens are tested. Most of these sirens are located on school buildings. I live a block from two schools, and about 1/2 mile from a third. I work 2nd shift. So every Saturday I get a free early wake-up call.

I work in an alarm monitoring station. We have drills about what to do if the power goes out (systems automatically switch to batteries; then we turn on the generators) and drills about what to do if our monitoring computers crash (manually pull alarms from the receivers and handle them) and even what to do in case of a tornado or snow storm. (Sit tight. There must be at least two people in the monitoring station at all times.) I have no idea what we would do if our building caught on fire. I will have to ask tomorrow when I go to work.

The reason they don’t treat it seriously is:

  1. The drills were announced months in advance.
  2. Mass e-mails and intercom announcements went out the day before, and twice the morning of the drill.
  3. Supervisors walked the floors an hour before the drill, telling everyone that there was a drill.

So…there’s not much cause to believe, when the alarm goes off exactly at 11:00am that day, that it’s not a drill.

Plus, add to this the fact that a drill takes from 30 minutes to an hour to do, and you are required to stay late to make up the work.

If the alarms went off any other time - which they have, on accident - people treat them as if they are serious.

My junior and senior years of high school were plagued by this sort of thing. The first problem was that they were doing construction on the building, and the fire alarms would go off, on average, about once a week. If they knew that they were doing something that was likely to set the alarm off, they’d make an announcement telling everyone to ignore the alarms unless otherwise stated, but most times it meant everyone had to tramp outside.

Out we go, to sit in the METAL bleachers around the football field, located about 100 feet from the back of the building. If there actually was a fire, we’d have roasted. As it was, we mostly just got really cold buns.

Also, those were the years that students discovered how much fun it was to make bomb threats. Those things would either shut down the school of get us out of class for hours. You’d think it’d be cool, but you’d be wrong. One of the bomb threats occurred on the day of the senior honors ceremony, when the school was packed with seniors in graduation caps and gowns, and parents coming to see the awards given out. We all tromp out to the football field, where it began to rain. Lots of wet kids, and lots of warped caps at graduation. There was also a threat during the dead of winter. Again, no coats, but the lady in charge of the bus garage took pity on us after half an hour and opened up the buses so we could at least get out of the wind.

Those were the days…

At my old job, we had false alarms weekly. Not drills, just false alarms. If the alarm went off, probably 50% of the workers would stay put because you could be fairly confident it was bogus, the alarm was just “crying wolf.” Should an event have occured, yeah, people would have died.

The alarm was a useless piece of shit that had everyone conditioned NOT to respond because “everyone knows it’s just broken.” :rolleyes:

The fastest and most efficient evacuation we ever had was when the alarm went off unexpectedly at my current job. There was a major cubicle “gopher effect” with everyone’s head popping up as if to ask: “Was this planned?” then we were all out the door and assembled at our meeting spot for a head count. Nothing at all like the lackadaisical pace of a drill. The evac has never been so fast.

Even then, our boss stayed behind because when we moved into this building, some bastard set off the fire alarm, then with offices empty and all emergency doors wide open, helped himself to several laptops and small electronics.