Emergency/Disaster Preparedness for the Childcare Setting
Please take a few minutes to think about how you would answer the following 3 questions:
- Does your child care setting have emergency/ disaster plans?
- Are emergency/disaster drills practiced regularly at your child care setting?
- As a child care provider, do you know your role in an emergency/disaster?
Whether you answered yes to all 3 questions or answered no to one or more, you are congratulated for taking the time to review some of the steps that should be taken for your child care setting to be fully prepared for an emergency/disaster.
Emergencies/disasters are typically unplanned and shocking. Therefore, being properly prepared ahead of time can guide you to respond appropriately and aid you to stay calm in an emergency/disaster. This can help save both time and lives. Remember, you are the one responsible for the safety of yourself and of the children in your care.
What is an emergency and a disaster?
Something that is important to understand is the difference between an emergency, such as an asthma attack, and a disaster, such as an earthquake. Even though this writing purposely uses emergency and disaster as if they are the same, according to Random House Webster’s Dictionary (1998), there is a definite difference between an emergency and a disaster. An emergency is “a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence requiring immediate action”. A disaster is “a calamitous (great misfortune) event, especially one occurring suddenly and causing great damage”. Both emergencies and disasters can begin suddenly, but disasters usually result in a larger impact to the community when compared to emergencies.
Why have emergency/disaster plans?
Having a plan can help you be more prepared before an emergency/disaster. Your child care setting must have written plans that are updated, practiced, and/or trained for routinely. The more overall experience you have with your plans, the more effectively you will respond in an emergency/disaster. The Head Start Disaster Preparedness Workbook says that disaster plans “define the policies, procedures, and resources put in place by your program to prepare for, respond to and recover from any type of disaster that may occur”. You can also use the above definition to define an emergency plan by putting the word emergency in place of disaster.
Reprinted with the permission of the California Childcare Health Program.
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