Having an emergency evacuation plan is essential for child care centres, where safety of staff and children is paramount. All staff should be well aware of procedures, including emergency numbers or emergency exits. Moreover, they should have practised procedures beforehand (such as fire drills) to prepare them for a real emergency situation.
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List of Emergency Contact Numbers
Child care centres should have a complete list of emergency numbers at hand. Emergency numbers can be placed in areas where all staff can see them, or handed out to staff members. Mandatory numbers include emergency services (911 and the number to dial out, if the centre has one), nonemergency service numbers for the fire brigade and nonemergency service numbers for police stations. Optional numbers include poison control, local health departments, social services and those of neighbouring sites that could be used as alternative evacuation locations.
Assign each member of the staff a responsibility in the event of a disaster. For example, one staff member should be responsible for calling emergency services, while other staff members may be in charge of evacuating the building, providing first aid, supervising children or turning off gas and electric supplies. Generally, a staff member trained in first aid must be on the premises at all times, whether an evacuation is required or not.
Check with local fire brigades and ensure you have the correct number of fire or emergency exits in the building. Emergency exits should be clear at all times and easily identifiable (e.g., labelled as "fire door"). A meeting point should be designated, close to all exit routes, that is safe and secure for children and staff.
A hypothetical evacuation should be developed and practised regularly by all staff members to prepare for actual emergency situations and help care centre staff improve the plan. The basic overview should consist of planning which procedures to perform first (i.e., evacuating the building and counting children before calling emergency services) and how to effectively deal with different situations. Regular drills and practices will also enable staff to familiarise themselves with procedures and prepare for future evacuations.
All emergency evacuation plans should be reviewed annually. All contact details (emergency numbers and parental contact details) should be updated; emergency exits and designated meeting points should be assessed to ensure they are still effective and safe; staff should be retrained in evacuation procedures; and basic overview plans/staff drills should be reviewed and modified (if necessary) on a regular basis.
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