As educators in an early childcare center one of the most important things we can do to ensure their safety is to be prepared and ready for any type of emergency at any given time. Having this knowledge that could save their lives is essential. Natural and human generated disasters, such as earthquakes, winter storms, flooding, bomb threats, arsonists or an intruder, can happen at any minute and without warning. Forming detailed plans for each type of natural and human generated disaster will help educators and staff be prepared, organized and knowledgeable of how to handle each specific emergency. According to the American Red Cross, being prepared can assure you and your children that you can apply your knowledge even in the event of a disaster or emergency (American Red Cross. 2012). In this part of my blog, I will explain two specific disaster scenario, winter storms and bomb threats. Both could threaten any early childhood environment. I will determine the procedures that must be taken to ensure the safety of the children and also assess the risks.
The first disaster scenario I have chosen is the human generated disaster, a bomb threat. For most people who went through high school during my generation they know what a bomb threat feels like. For a young child I can only imagine how much worse it can feel, so being prepared and having the knowledge to get them safely through it is an essential quality for me. School bomb threats can create a significant amount of anxiety in any school community (National School Safety and Security Services, 2012). In all types of emergency the first step to ensure safety is to take preventive actions to prepare in the event of a bomb threat. One way to be prepared for a bomb threat is to provide training to all school personnel, including administration and custodians, on bomb threat action procedures. Creating a bomb threat checklist, searching different procedures, crime scene management, evacuation procedures, and recovery training and crisis guidelines (National School Safety and Security Services. 2012). For example in the high school I attended they have placed caller ID on school phones to help identify bomb threat callers and also discuss and exercise drills to prepare students for any potential bomb threat situations. In the event of a bomb threat, there are specific procedures for all staff involved to evaluate the incident. School administrative staff whom answer phone calls should have a bomb threat checklist accessible to them with a list of questions to ask a bomb threat caller and characteristics to note during the call. A notification system should also be designed to know whom to notify. Search procedures for suspicious items should be done by school staff familiar with the property, and by each teacher who is most familiar with their own classrooms (Trump, 1999).
There is always the issue of false bomb threats being made by students who see it as a chance to get out of class. Evacuating students and staff efficiently can also be a problem some schools face. I have personally been through a false threat which cause the whole student body to be evacuated from the building into the football stadium in cold weather awaiting the okay to return to class. In every bomb threat situations, it is important to treat all threats seriously, and then to work with local law enforcement to determine the case-by-case protocol and procedures for evacuation (National School Safety and Security Services, 2012).
The second disaster scenario I have chosen is the natural disaster, a winter storm. Winter storms can be predicted by the weather channel or might occur suddenly without warning. Winter storms are notorious for causing break down of transportations and can cause car accidents, power failure and injuries (Southern WV Preparedness Partnership, 2013).
In this situation there are many dangers, children and educators are at risk of being in the dark, freezing in the cold and starving by not having any power supplies that gives heat and refrigerated food. Bus drivers and parents could be at risk of getting into an accident because of the storm. Preparing your car for winter weather is essential in areas like West Virginia were we frequently get severe snow storms during the winter months. Placing a winter emergency kit in each care that includes: shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, water, non-perishable snack food, matches, hats, socks, mittens, blankets, first aid kit, emergency flares, and any other essential items can save your life if you were to get stuck (Southern WV Preparedness Partnership, 2013). If the staff aren’t prepared and haven’t checked the weather information there will be no means of providing transportation to children if parents are unable to pick their children up and buses will not have snow tires and that could lead to road accidents .The classroom will be dark and cold without a generator.
When preparing for winter storms educators and staff should be listening to radios and weather channels, so they are aware of any possible winter storms. Prepare for possible isolation in your center by having a sufficient heating fuel and even a generator if available. Learn how to shut off water valves in case a water pipe were to bursts or to prevent them from bursting. Building owners should hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow (Southern WV Preparedness Partnership, 2013). Educators should always be mentally prepared for such risks and able to prepare the children as well so they are ready to answer when an emergency occurs and can react accordingly because they know the emergency procedures (Robertson, 2013). Bring prepared for a winter storm takes a lot of work and the right mindset. It can become very dangerous and without the right knowledge you could be in serious danger.
In any and all emergencies, natural disasters or human generated disasters, it is important to have preventive safety measures, actions and procedures, and to always remain calm. All schools should have specific emergency plans for each disaster and danger. All staff, teachers and educators must be knowledgeable of the planned procedures to protect the safety of the children and themselves.
American Red Cross. (2012). Plan & Prepare. Retrieved on March 14, 2015. From http://www.redcross.org/prepare
National School Safety and Security Services. (2012). School bomb threats and bombs. Retrieved on March 14, 2015. From http://www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/school-bomb-threats-and-bombs/
Robertson, C. (2013). Safety, nutrition, and health in early education (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.
Southern West Virginia Preparedness Partnership. (2013). Winter storms and extreme cold. Retrieved on March 14, 2015. From http://www.wvprepared.org/beprepared/winter_storms_and_extreme_cold
Trump, Kenneth S. (1999). How to handle bomb threats and suspicious devices. Retrieved on March 14, 2015. From http://www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/SP&MBombArticle1999.pdf