Developing the culture of risk at school

Culture of risk, what is it for?

In countries facing natural hazards, prevention plays an important role. Its interest is understood by the population and it is shared by the greatest number.

But what are we talking about when we talk about risk culture? No financial, legal or security risks (theft, attacks) as the news regularly reminds us. It is essentially a question of “major risks”. What are they ? These are the terrorist threat and natural risks (volcanic, cyclones, avalanches and extreme cold, heat waves and drought, storms and tsunamis, forest fires, floods, earthquakes and landslides), health, technological (nuclear, industrial , transport of hazardous materials and risk of dam failure) and cybers (data capture, ransomware, phishing, image damage, espionage, sabotage).

Fortunately, these families of risks do not concern all schools. Some risks are of interest only to companies or administrations, such as espionage. Others will rather only target individuals such as image damage or phishing.

The risks to be taken into account for a given establishment will mainly depend on its natural environment or the neighbourhood. The proximity of the sea to a lake or a river can induce risks of flooding. In mountainous environments, the risk of avalanches is to be feared and earthquakes can be dangerous in seismic zones. Prior knowledge of these risks allows you to prepare for them in order to avoid the worst.

This preparation must maintain, without paranoia and on the contrary with a great extent, the presence of one or more risks and how to guard against them. It is on this last point that the serenity that must be present when a risk arises depends.

The implementation of risk management in a school will have effects well beyond its enclosure because the children will talk about it to the parents who will talk about it around them. This will lead to raising awareness of the risk, which may go as far as setting up extended management at the level of a district or even the municipality.

Risks in a school

Certain risks can be encountered in all educational establishments. This is the case of the terrorist threat which can strike anywhere. The nuclear threat could be taken into account on the scale of a country (military nuclear) but on the scale of a school, special arrangements will have to be made when it is close to a power plant. electricity (civil nuclear).

Other risks are less to be feared in a school. This is the case of cyber-risks which concern more individuals, companies or administrations. They may, however, be concerned in establishments managing sensitive data (high schools, colleges or large first-degree establishments) or equipped with technical management systems (BMS, BMS, fire alarm, anti-intrusion). The neutralization of these may have serious consequences. They should therefore be taken into account.

Drought may not be taken into account, but the heat wave is a risk that tends to spread and become frequent.

In the family of health risks, air pollution and major pandemics will have to be taken into account, but for the latter we have recently seen that management is taken over by the State for application on a national scale. . On the other hand, air pollution may be taken into account depending on the local industrial context.

Natural risks can have very important consequences but each of them must be evaluated according to the geographical situation and the local climatic conditions.

Actions to be taken to mobilize

Developing a culture of risk requires that it be well understood, accepted and therefore shared by all.

Engaging in a risk management process involves identifying those that may concern the establishment. It is therefore necessary first of all to take note of the existing information. The DDRM (departmental file of major risks) can be consulted on the prefecture’s website. It identifies the main natural or technological risks encountered in each of the municipalities of the department and also presents the safeguard and prevention measures that can help limit their effects.

Some municipalities may have established a DICRIM (municipal information file on major risks). The purpose of this document is to provide information on the risks threatening the municipality, and to describe the prevention and safeguard measures that have been planned to protect against them.

These data constitute a relevant framework for developing a personalized prevention plan for the establishment. Each risk can thus be studied and associated preventive actions to be implemented according to their potential seriousness. Personalized risk prevention plans may require updates. Indeed, the nature or importance of the risks may change over time, it is therefore necessary to take these changes into account so that the preventive measures are always commensurate with the risks.

The development of a personalized risk prevention plan makes it possible to introduce, without being alarmist, to parents and staff, the need to engage in collective reflection with regard to the specific risks aimed at the establishment. It is important to say that this anticipation approach has no other objective than to prepare for a hypothetical crisis management by allowing everyone’s attitudes, in the event of an occurrence, to be more effective and avoid the effects of panic always harmful in such circumstances.

On the material level, it will also be necessary to provide the necessary emergency equipment in the event of a disaster. An emergency kit will be defined for the establishment. It is to be composed according to the identified risks. They can be very different depending on the location but they generally all include information to identify the gathering places (main location or other secondary locations that can be used). The kit will also include special precautions relating to the care to be given to people whose state of health is affected (medical supplies, places of storage, medicines and care to be dispensed).

Evacuation may be considered and scenarios will be defined. They will precisely describe the means used, the planned fallback locations and the alert and rescue means.

Such an organization requires resource people. They must be well identified. For this, a table listing them with their telephone number and their function must be kept up to date (an annual update seems to be the right frequency).

It can be helpful if a child knows how to use a phone and who to call. Training sequences may be carried out for this purpose. For older children, written messages (SMS) will be preferred. It may be useful to prepare standard messages which will have the advantage of bringing together all the important information to be communicated while being as concise as possible.


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Developing the culture of risk at school