Childcare Emergency Evacuation Procedures

The value of developing childcare emergency evacuation procedures only becomes truly apparent when an emergency situation occurs. To ensure that carers and children are fully supported in an emergency situation requires thorough planning and regular practice.

The Importance of Emergency Situation Procedures in Childcare.

Major emergencies happen regularly and while they may seem to be far away, they can and do happen in childcare situations. Planning for emergencies allows you to reduce the risks to life and property. When formulating emergency procedures in childcare there are a number of points to consider and plan for.

What to consider

A starting point for establishing an “emergency evacuation plan childcare” which will also include an appropriate “fire drill procedure childcare” is the relevant Australian standard which in this case, is Australian Standard 3745-2010.

Using this standard as a guide it is worthwhile taking time to consult with the appropriate industry body or a private consultant to ensure that you are on the right track.  As a broad rule of thumb you will need to cover the following key areas.

  • Complete a new risk assessment of the entire facility. A fresh look will ensure that previous assessments are still applicable and in order.
  • Once the risk assessment has been conducted, brainstorm potential outcomes and scenarios.
  • Reference your organisation’s policies and existing procedures to frame your initial incident management plans.
  • Submit these plans to the centre management team/board for scrutiny and review.
  • Test the plan in a tabletop exercise with the management team to see how the procedure will hold up in potentially real scenarios.
  • Finalise the document and have it certified/signed by the owner of the building.
  • Formulate testing plans for new emergency procedures
  • Design a scenario and have parents and children participate in a trial run exercise
  • Seek feedback on how the exercise worked and make any adjustments found to be necessary.

The type of emergencies you might encounter

Although emergencies are not an everyday occurrence, it pays to be well prepared for all eventualities. Being prepared for emergencies means that you will be able to manage the situation while not causing further harm to the child involved or others. With children being children, accidents can occur out of the blue. Therefore, it is imperative that emergency procedures in childcare settings are well formulated, communicated, and practised.

Emergencies will present in a variety of forms and will require a range of responses.

Emergencies that may occur include:

Medical emergencies can present in a variety of ways including broken bones, severe vomiting, seizures, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, suffocation, choking, chest pain, vomiting of blood, poisoning and seizures.

In most instances these situations will not require evacuation of the entire community. What will be required is set procedures for dealing with these instances and a well stocked and easily accessible first aid kit. Your first aid kit should be regularly checked to ensure that all of the contents are still usable and have not reached their expiry date. It should be stored somewhere that is cool and dry as well as easy to access.

As medical emergencies are considered the most likely emergencies to encounter in a childcare setting, it is a requirement that early learning educators be first aid qualified in Australia.

Medical emergencies although confronting are not perhaps as challenging a situation as when emergencies require a full evacuation.

What emergencies may require a full evacuation?

In circumstances where full evacuations are required preparation and pre-planning are essential to ensure that evacuations are carried out with a minimum of fuss and that all parties are accounted for and kept safe.

Typically, emergencies requiring a full evacuation would include such calamities as fire, flood, bee or wasp infestation, cyclones, earthquakes, and bombings. While some of these situations can be considered unlikely to happen, they can and do occur from time to time. Preparation is key.. Ideally, staff will be prepared for such events and know how to act.

How are staff trained for an emergency evacuation in childcare

To ensure that staff are trained to effectively deal with an emergency evacuation in childcare, it is imperative that the childcare centre’s emergency policies and procedures are readily available, clearly enunciated, rigidly enforced, monitored regularly, and consistently reviewed. Whether it is an “evacuation procedure, childcare” or a ”fire drill procedure, childcare,” the plan must contain clear concise instructions that childcare staff can follow when confronted with an emergency. The plan should clearly state the location of fire equipment as well as designated evacuation and meeting points. To complement this plan evacuation diagrams should be clearly visible in prominent positions.

Emergency evacuation procedures in childcare should be crafted with the understanding that all emergency situations are going to present a differing set of risks and dangers.. It is therefore critical to have strategies in place for each likely scenario. Priorities should be set in accordance with each specific scenario.

With procedures and priorities set, it is vital that all staff are well-trained in emergency skills. There are some key skills that they simply must know

  • Where fire equipment is and how to operate it
  • That their first aid training is up to date and that they have ready access to first aid equipment.
  • That they know and understand specific evacuation policies and procedures of the facility. Having a great emergency evacuation plan is one thing – having staff who know how to implement it is quite another..

For that reason, it is important to run regular emergency drills to get both staff and children familiar with emergency evacuation procedures. This will not only build awareness but also help to quell panic should the need arise to swing into action. Regular drills help to breed familiarity and repetition is a great way to teach desired behaviours in children. Regular practice can enforce actions such as walking as opposed to running, staying calm and following instructions. This familiarity with the procedure will help them to be less frightened if faced with an emergency situation.. Repetition also helps staff to become confident in implementing procedures when required to do so.

A final level of support can be put in place by ensuring that evacuation diagrams meet Australian Safety Standards and display the following key information.

  • The Floor Plan and Site Plan of the facility.
  • Nominated Assembly Point
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Nearest exit from the marked “You are here” point
  • Nearest fire equipment location.

Conclusion

Finally, while no one wants to be placed in an emergency situation, emergencies do occur without notice and it is therefore vital that childcare centres be prepared to manage any situation, giving priority to the care and safety of the children.