emergency disaster plan

Developing an Emergency Disaster Plan for Child Care Centers

Looking into putting together an emergency disaster plan for your child care center? Whether your area is at risk of natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes or floods, or you are just trying to prepare for the unexpected, having a predetermined emergency disaster plan in place is key. Following the terrible wildfires across Western Canada, most notably to our friends in Fort McMurray, we wanted to share some ideas for an Emergency Disaster Plan for childcare centers.

We are relieved that everyone in Alberta was able to get out safely; the quick response demonstrates why an emergency response plan is so critical. There are many reasons why your child care facility should have an emergency and disaster plan in place:

  1. You are better able to protect your children and staff
  2. You are able to react appropriately should a disaster occur
  3. You can quickly respond to the needs of everyone involved.

Here are some of the items you should include when designing an emergency disaster plan for your childcare center:

1. Practice fire and emergency drills with all staff and students on a monthly basis.

Outline clear evacuation procedures for various types of disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and fire. Record the time and date of each drill in a logbook for future reference. Make comments on what can be improved for the next drill to become more efficient.

2. Select a safe meeting spot near your child care center and communicate to children, staff and parents that this is the designated meeting point should an emergency occur.

If a disaster happens, parents should understand that their child can be picked up from this spot if possible. Remember to take a head count once you arrive at your meeting point to make sure everyone has arrived safely.

3. Prepare a file of important information on all children who attend your center.

This file should include the personal information of all children in your care, emergency contact information, and any relevant medical information. Keep this file handy, near a door or emergency exit, so it can be grabbed quickly when an emergency or disaster happens. For an extra layer of security, keep this information stored digitally on your phone or online. This information can also always be accessed via HiMama from your phone or tablet.

4. Put together a collection of emergency supplies that will be stored on-site to be prepared in case of disaster.

Your disaster preparedness supplies should include sufficient water, non-perishable food and medical supplies to last each individual several days if necessary.

5. Consider asking parents to prepare a small emergency kit for their child to supplement the supplies your center will have on hand.

This kit should include a favorite comfort toy, a favorite book, a few non-perishable food items, water, bandages and a flashlight. This emergency kit can be customized to the unique needs of your children and the types of disasters you might experience in your region.

6. Communicate the plan in advance. Use HiMama’s Family Handbook as a template

In the event that an emergency occurs, a well-developed disaster plan is key to the safety of your employees and children. Preparing a detailed plan and informing parents of what measures will be taken when a disaster happens will put their mind at ease and help them feel comfortable knowing their child is safe in your care.

If you are looking for more great resources to help you better plan your child care center’s operations, check out our daycare daily sheets and templates. We’re continuously adding new forms, checklists and more to help you keep your facility running smoothly.

Read more about the importance of health and safety in early childhood.

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Ron Spreeuwenberg

Ron is the Co-Founder & CEO of HiMama, where he leads all aspects of a social purpose business that helps early childhood educators improve learning outcomes for children.