Students at Lockport are warming up to a new way of evacuating the school in emergencies.
Mark Blieske, the tech-ed teacher and Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht from the University of Manitoba, together designed the cold weather system patented K.U.W.L. – Keeps Us Warm Longer.
The system was developed after four false fire alarms went off in the school this past winter. With the school being in an isolated location, the staff and students had to be outside in -30 temperatures waiting for the school busses to arrive to take them to a safer place. Luckily these were false alarms but it sparked some questions by Blieske.
“I thought, something had to be done about this,” said Blieske. “You can’t have kids freezing outside with no jackets on in our winters.”
So with the help of Dr. Giesbrecht, commonly known as ‘Dr. Popsicle’, they developed the cold weather emergency shelter system.
There are six tarps and each one holds about 60 to 70 people with a set of beams or poles to support the tarps and keep them off their backs; the condensation wells up on the walls once the heat starts kicking in. It works by creating a barrier from the wind and using the heat generated by the people in the tent and the warmth from the sun. After only 10 minutes the tarps can get up to 10 degrees.
Each student has a job, whether it’s grabbing the gear or standing on an edge of a tarp or holding a pole. They can stay inside the tarps for as long as they need to or until the busses arrive to help.
They’re hoping that schools in northern Manitoba or in similarly remote locations might take a system like this into consideration to protect their staff and students from the cold.