In the event of emergency extreme weather, the following procedures should be followed. These emergencies would include, but are not limited to: tornado, flood, fire or other weather emergency affecting the transportation network.
STSWR advises that each driver on route should locate safe places to stop the bus in case of severe weather. Speak with your dispatch office if you need help.
- Be aware of any advisories regarding fog.
- Decrease speed in severe weather situations.
- Activate roof-mounted white flashing strobe light (if available) when visibility is limited.
- Notify dispatch of any dangerous limited visibility areas, unsafe situations, and any route delays.
- In lightning, hail, wind less than 35 miles per hour, or heavy rain, drive with care as long as visibility is sufficient for safe operation.
- The danger of hydroplaning is greatest when rain first starts – oil on the roadway gets slicker in the first minutes of rainfall.
- Be aware of debris in the roadway and never drive across downed power lines.
- If severe weather occurs while on route with students, park the bus in an area away from potential falling objects and remain there until the storm is over. Use flashing hazard and amber lights to maximize visibility of the bus.
- In extreme weather such as heavy lightning, large hail, or freezing rain, attempt to drop off students at the safest possible location (this may mean keeping a child on the bus). Notify dispatch of any changes if children are not dropped off at their usual stops.
Tornado represents a great risk and adequate steps must be taken to ensure the safety of the students. When encountering a tornado finding shelter is utmost important.
- Tornado Watch: When conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms with one or more tornadoes. Transportation will continue while drivers must remain vigilant and have a plan to reach shelter should the conditions deteriorate or a tornado warning be issued. No runs will be initiated during a tornado watch and will be delayed until the tornado watch has ended. Runs already in progress will be completed if safe to do so. If weather deteriorates quickly upon departing a school, the driver should return to the school as their first option.
- Tornado Warning: When a tornado has been reported; or when there is evidence based on radar, or from a reliable spotter that a tornado is imminent. All transportation will halt and buses evacuated to the nearest shelter.
- When a Tornado Warning is issued a school bus driver is to promptly seek shelter for the passengers.
- If the warning is announced at or near the dismissal of school the school day students are to remain in the building in a designated safe area.
- If the warning is announced while in route a school bus driver is to go to a pre- identified shelter or building closest to their current location depending on the immediacy of the tornado threat.
- If caught in the direct path of a tornado or one is sighted and pre-identified shelter is not accessible the school bus driver is to:
- Stop and evacuate the passengers. Do not attempt to drive around the tornado. Do not remain on the school bus. Via radio, advise dispatch and have them relay to STSWR the bus number and location.
- Seek safety in a below ground level area, such as a ditch, ravine, or depression in a location that is: 1) away from the bus; and 2) where practical on the side of the road without power lines, utility poles, trees etc.
- Do not use above ground locations for shelter (e.g., road or bridge over passes)
- Instruct passengers to lie flat face first and to protect their head by using a jacket, other clothing, or their hands and arms. Advise passengers to not look at the tornado.
- After the emergency:
- Account for all passengers, check for injuries, and provide first aid if needed. Obtain medical attention if needed.
- Before leaving a shelter or the immediate area if out in the open, the bus driver should monitor the local sky for a few minutes in the direction the tornado came from to ensure a second tornado does not follow a similar path.
- Be alert for continued storm activity, downed power lines, ruptured gas lines, or structural damage to trees, buildings, roads and bridges.
- Establish communication with STSWR and School to determine the next steps to take with the children.
- Be aware of any flood advisories and the flood prone areas on your route.
- Inform dispatch in the event a road is blocked and before an alternate route is used.
- Do not attempt to drive through standing water with a school bus.
- Have an alternate route if this should occur.
- Use caution if part of the roadway is covered by water – the road below could be damaged or destroyed by floodwaters.
- If bus stop area is flooded, contact dispatch for advice. Possible dangers to students could be floodwaters contaminated by sewage downed power lines with a risk of electrocution, swift current or wildlife.