CFS encourages ECEC services to involve children in preparing for bushfires

CFS encourages ECEC services to involve children in preparing for bushfires

by Freya Lucas

January 05, 2022

When early childhood education and care (ECEC) services are planning to protect themselves from bushfires, children should be involved in making plans and having discussions about the dangers, Belinda Dunbar, Child and Youth Project Officer at the Country Fire Service (CFS) has said. 

 

Talking about bushfires with children, and involving them in preparations can be very helpful, Ms Dunbar explained.

 

“While they may find bushfires scary or worrying, research in the area has found that by involving them actively in the planning process it can reduce their fears and concerns.”

 

She suggested talking about bushfires and other emergencies with children and teaching about fire-danger ratings. Children can learn what fuels a fire and steps people can take before, during and after an event.

 

To support bushfire education in South Australia, the CFS offers a free session for staff at schools and education and care services. It includes an introduction to practical bushfire preparedness, bushfire behaviour and how to source information.

 

Other States and Territories may offer similar programs which give participants a background to bushfires that will support them in making informed decisions for their emergency-management plans.

 

“We use a variety of real-life scenarios to identify strengths and weaknesses in emergency planning and procedures,” Ms Dunbar shared. 

 

When creating a bushfire plan, the CFS suggests early childhood services and schools think through all the complexities they might face.

 

Preparing for a bushfire can be daunting when thinking about the quick decision-making and possible relocation or invacuation of many young people that might be needed, but having a plan that identifies options will help services to cope and adapt in an emergency.

 

“Some of the best things you can do to be prepared is to make sure all your team and your families know your plans – educating your families on what you will do in such an event will lessen the anxiety associated with it,” Ms Dunbar said.

 

“Ensure your staff have defined roles and are involved in the planning process. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities can help the success of your plans and should be practiced often as a team.

 

“Cleaning up and maintaining any grass and vegetation around your facility is an essential task every fire danger season.”

 

For bushfire education for schools and education and care services in South Australia, contact Belinda Dunbar by email to [email protected] or phone (08) 8115 3324.

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