The safety of children in a child care centre is a high priority, and each facility must meet local and state safety guidelines, which are checked on a regular basis. These guidelines dictate that facility directors and staff ensure no child is harmed inside their day care rooms, on the grounds of the centre or by anyone working there.
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Children love to play outdoors and need the physical activity as part of their development. Child care facilities must have a checklist in place regarding the specific safety and condition of playground areas and equipment. Playground equipment must be in good repair, free of any sharp edges or pointy corners. At least 12 inches of safety mat, gravel, sand or wood chips must be underneath playground equipment to cushion a child's fall. Staff members must walk the facility grounds to be sure garbage has not blown in or animals holes have not been dug. This inspection should take place each time a staff member brings her group of children outdoors.
Choking hazards are of serious concern in a child care facility. Day care centres that provide snacks and meals must follow safety guidelines to ensure that children aren't served foods, such as hot dogs, carrots or popcorn, that could prove to be a choking hazard. Food is not the only possible choking hazard in an early childhood facility. Supplies such as latex gloves, plastic bags and paper products are also considered choking hazards. Toys must not be smaller than 1-1/4 inches wide by 2-1/4 inches long, and marbles and coins are prohibited. Stay on top of recalls to ensure you don't have unsafe equipment, such as cribs with slats that would allow a baby's head to get stuck in between them. Keep drapery or blind cords on a hook, out of the reach of children. Watching children closely and using a safety checklist on a regular basis are the best ways to be proactive in an effort to eliminate the risk of choking.
Planning for the unexpected is important, no matter where you are. When you are responsible for other lives, particularly the lives of small children, you must ensure certain safety measures and procedures are in place in order to prevent a tragedy and bring everyone to safety. Fire drills need to be conducted every month at child care facilities so staff members can practice the evacuation route and procedures. Administrators should observe and time the process so they can provide helpful feedback and make sure the evacuation procedure is running the way it should. The fire brigade will also come to the facility on a regular basis to check fire extinguishers, fire alarms and to make sure the building meets fire safety codes. Keep all entrances and exits unblocked at all times; not only is this required by the fire marshal, it will allow you to exit the building as quickly and safely as possible. Create and follow a disaster plan that includes emergency contacts, a nearby, safe location to go to and perform a headcount, current attendance sheets for all classrooms and first aid kits.
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