What Your Signs Really Say

If they are faded or damaged, fix them.

Fairly often I find faded signs, posters and other written instructions during campus safety, security, climate and emergency preparedness assessments. These can range from faded lettering on signs, to faded parking on curbs and pavement to indicate fire lanes and many safety related instructions in between.  

Faded signage can result in safety incidents and can become problematic during school safety litigation. An astute expert witness specializing in campus safety will typically note such situations when they are relevant to a civil case. Faded signage can also become an issue in criminal cases. For example signage stipulating that vehicles entering campus property are subject to search by campus officials and law enforcement officers needs to be legible if a search is conducted based on this type of signage.

Perhaps most importantly, faded safety instructions increase the chances that a safety incident will occur in the first place. On a more basic level, even when no safety incident occurs as a result of faded signage, faded safety signage conveys a message of apathy, lack of concern for the safety of students, staff and visitors and perhaps a lackluster campus image in general. If you cannot read what a sign relating to safety says, it may cause your organization problems of some sort. 

Taking the time to identify and correct faded safety signage can avert tragic situations.

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Photo courtesy Safe Havens International

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About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at [email protected]. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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