Emergencies occur every day. We can’t stop them from happening, but can do our best to be prepared. Are you prepared with your emergency evacuation procedures in the case of an emergency?
The worst time to prepare for an emergency is during one. As Benjamin Franklin shared, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
A disorganized response can result in injury, damage, and possible loss of property and life. That is why it’s so important to have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for staff, volunteers, and leadership.
The purpose of an EAP is to establish an organizational structure and procedures for response to major emergencies. It defines the roles and responsibilities assigned to individuals responsible for acting on the plan during an emergency.
An emergency can include natural disasters such as a fire, flood, earthquake, blizzard; or manmade disasters such as arson, onsite active shooter, bomb threats, etc. Whichever category the emergency falls under, a plan is needed, especially if you have children in your care.
When creating your emergency evacuation procedures, here are a few items to consider:
- What situation would determine if an evacuation is necessary in the children’s area?
- Create a list so everyone is on the same page and knows when to act.
- Identify the roles and responsibilities of each individual in the children’s area. What would the chain-of-command looks like in the event of an evacuation?
- Ensure all staff members are aware of their role and understand how to proceed.
- Specific evacuation procedures should include:
- Routes and exits – all employees should be trained in the workplace layout and various alternative escape routes.
- Prepare for children with a disability – know exactly what is required to get them out safely.
- Determine a procedure to account for everyone in your facility – members, children, employees, and visitors.
- Create an emergency contact list for police, fire, utility companies, poison control, facilities management, and a locksmith.
- Have on hand information and instructions about any special processes and equipment required to evacuate.
Every emergency looks different. Keep everyone prepared and on the same page with these tips for your emergency evacuation procedures:
- Flip books are a great tool. Put one in each classroom or wherever people gather. Each tab contains specific instructions for what do for various emergency scenarios. Free download available at www.kidcheck.com/flip-book. It’s a simple easy way for everyone to know exactly how to respond.
- Signage is a cost effective way to make sure items like first aid kits and exit routes are clearly identified.
- Electronic children’s check-in/out, with a real-time attendee roster, confirms headcount in designated areas outside the building. As parents begin to arrive to pick up their children, you can also complete check-out and update data all at the same time. Attendance records are an important item when evacuating.
- Work with security team and/or leadership team to make sure they approve evacuation plans and procedures. Management or designated security individuals come in handy when you need extra resources during an evacuation, especially with children.
- Educate and train on the plan to make sure everyone understands the evacuation procedures. One idea is to have a 10 minute standing meeting each week to review current evacuation procedures. This is helpful for new employees and long term ones to keep up on procedure knowledge.
Emergencies can happen at any time. Being prepared is much less costly than learning through experience.