Group and School Age Child Care Licensing Policy Statement
Child care licensing regulations require that programs develop written contingency plans and procedures to deal with fire, natural disasters, loss of power, heat or water. Some emergencies may require evacuation of the child care site. In other situations it may be best to take shelter within the facility until the emergency is resolved. Some situations may involve only the child care facility itself; others may include the neighborhood or immediate area. No matter what the circumstances, planning ahead and practice will help children and adults remain as safe as possible when an emergency occurs.
The following must be part of a written contingency plan:
In the event of a fire, natural disaster, or other situation requiring evacuation of the building (such as a chemical spill or bomb threat), the plan must include information detailing where the children will be taken, how they will get there, and how parents will be notified. Will the program have its own vehicle(s) available to transport the children to an emergency location, or will you need assistance from emergency vehicles? Providers should consider the resources available in the neighborhood, seek permission of proper authorities, and make sure there is a safe, comfortable space for the children there. Identify another location further away, outside of the neighborhood, in the event that the emergency is more widespread. If you must evacuate the facility, you should be prepared to take with you emergency contact information for all children, emergency medical treatment consent forms, special medications needed by the children, and first aid supplies. You may want to have a "disaster kit" prepared that you can quickly retrieve and take with you containing all the necessary information, and several others with toys and activity plans to occupy the children. As in any off-site activity, count the children before you leave the program, count them again once outside, and count them when you get to your destination. Determine whether a telephone will be available at your destination for your use in notifying parents, or whether you will have a cellular telephone. Document when the children are picked up and by whom. And find out from emergency personnel in your town where the local meeting place is in the event of a major evacuation that includes an entire town, city or geographic area.
In some emergency situations it may be safer to remain on site until the emergency has ended. In the event of severe weather or other emergencies creating a power outage, loss of heat or water, if the program will continue to operate on site the plan must address how it will meet the need for heat, telephone service, fire and smoke detection alarms, lighting, hot and cold water, and the preparation and storage of food. Regarding access to hot and cold water, the plan must address how the program will meet the requirements for toileting, flushing toilets, diapering, hand washing, and dish washing, if necessary. Consider whether you have emergency supplies of food, blankets, flashlights, and other necessities to keep yourself and the children in your care comfortable. You may want to set aside special activities for the children until the situation resolves. In the event of a tornado, be prepared to move to an interior area of the building, away from windows, such as a basement, interior room or hallway. Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water service in the event of an earthquake. Contact your local building inspector, board of health, fire department or other emergency agency for their advice regarding any of the above emergencies.
It is recommended that the program share its contingency plans with parents at the time of enrollment, and review and update its contingency plans regularly.
Information provided by the Department of Early Education and Care. Created: March 1, 2006; Last reviewed: January 10, 2008.