Horrific school shootings over the last three decades have hardened school safety policies, and the same holds true for medical and religious establishments.
To accommodate current circumstances, lockdown window covers have had to evolve as well. When determining the best course of action for hardening a facility from threats, there are many considerations for security leaders to take into account.
Types of safety door window covers
The type of safety cover plays a pivotal role in its suitability to a space. Security leaders should consider whether the tool is lightweight; fire-rated; completely conceals visibility; and other features when determining which cover best fits their space.
Any safety product needs to be easy to use during an emergency. Past events suggest that most people don’t remember complicated instructions during a crisis. If the product is too difficult or timely to execute, chances are it won’t be activated. At the same time, during drills such as school lockdown drills, quick recovery after the drill is just as important as its execution.
Door deadbolts and hardware
Some of the steps schools are taking to make their learning environments safer is to include door safety and security. Deadbolts and different door hardening systems are being retrofitted to school doors, for example.
Impact resistant coatings and blackout window covers are being added to the glass on school doors. Most of these hardening products are made to keep a violent intruder at bay.
Why door glass covers evolved
Shortly after the Columbine massacre, teachers were forced to use moveable posters or craft paper to cover their door glass. More recently, several makeshift rolling or "pull down" window covers became available.
These shades cover door windows somewhat, but can make it difficult to recover after the emergency is over. This is where the danger lies — if a lockdown door glass cover does not recover to the ready position immediately after the threat has ended, head injuries are at high risk, since students and teachers will have reduced visibility through the blocked window.
Compliance issues in door safety tools
Teachers are expected to keep windows uncovered at all times and immediately after lockdown drills. Yet, some designs simply don’t make it easy for teachers to recover. A vision panel that remains covered is an accident waiting to happen.
There is also the case of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compatibility. Most designs do not account for disabled persons or even a small child operating them in an emergency. Although not ideal, it is still important for a small child to operate a safety door window cover in the event that their teacher might become incapacitated.
There are many scenarios that need to be considered when researching for the appropriate door window cover. Although no design is 100% foolproof, it’s safe to say that some are far more effective than others in active shooter situations.