Shoes, supervision, equipment…what are the risks coming from emergency drills?
Rehearsals of emergency procedures, the New South Wales Regulatory Authority said, should be carried out every three months, warning that sometimes the rehearsals themselves can carry some level of risk.
To help providers to identify and address which risks may be relevant to their service, the department has created a suite of resources and templates to assist with emergency and evacuation rehearsals and enable each service to critically reflect on what went well and what might be done differently for future rehearsals.
The risks present during rehearsals of emergency procedures can include:
- Supervision – Are you in a mixed-use building? Is your assembly area in a place which may enable unauthorised people to access children?
- Burnt feet – The route to your assembly point may include paved surfaces that can reach temperatures of up to 60 degrees in summer. To avoid injuries to children’s feet, consider changing your evacuation route, requiring children to put their socks and shoes in a basket that can easily be carried out by an educator, or including an outdoor blanket in your evacuation kit that can be thrown down on hot surfaces allowing children to evacuate safely. Very young children learning to walk should go barefoot often, to encourage balance, posture and coordination, so requiring children to wear shoes at all times may not be reasonably practicable.
- Children’s development stages – Consider assigning more educators to assist very young children to evacuate, especially if you have to navigate stairs.
- Emergency equipment – If you use evacuation cots, do they easily fit through the doors on your evacuation route? Are educators trained to use fire extinguishers if it is safe to do so?
“Regular rehearsals of your procedures ensure that, should such an event arise, children, staff and families already know what to do,” the Department said.
Rehearsals can also help services to identify and mitigate possible risks to children associated with the evacuation or lockdown procedure, especially when rehearsing during naptime, pick-up or drop-off times.
Further information about preparing for and managing emergencies can also be found on the department’s website.