Do You Have A Center Emergency Plan?
Every year there are natural and man-made disasters. Some of them make the news, while others you only through word of mouth. If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to come up with a center emergency plan! If you already have one in place, take a few minutes to review it and make sure everything is still up to date and ready to use.
Step 1 – Be Aware Of The Emergencies You May Be Facing
Start by figuring out and making a list of the natural emergencies and disasters you may be facing in your area. Preparing for a tornado is very different from preparing for a hurricane, a pandemic, an earthquake or a major snow storm. Be aware of the types of emergencies you may encounter and then read up on how to best prepare for each them. This information will become the basis for your emergency plan.
Step 2 – Find Safe Spots In The Center
If the emergency or disaster is one that you can wait out in your center, select a designated safe spot for each group (don’t forget office staff). When the unexpected hits, you don’t want to get overwhelmed and make a bad decision under stress. Think about the safest places now and make sure everyone in your program is aware of what and where that shelter in place spot is. You can even stash a little emergency kit with a flashlight, emergency radio, and a bit of food and water in the spot just in case. How and where that place is will vary from center to center and emergency to emergency. Refer to your list and research from step one to make an educated decision.
Step 3 – Declare A Safe Meeting Spot Should You Be Required To Leave
Some natural disasters and man-made emergencies will require you to evacuate. It’s a good idea to come up with safe meeting spots well ahead of time. You should have both an on-site evacuation and an off-site location. Moving to a designated community shelter is a good plan when a hurricane is approaching.
Decide on a meeting spot and make sure each person associated with your center knows the plan. You never know when disaster strikes and who may be where. Posting a copy of the relocation plan on your website is a good idea. Parents may not have access to your parent handbook when an emergency hits. If your parents are at work they need to know where to meet up with you if there is no way of reaching them before you leave.
Step 4 – Keep Emergency Contact Info On
Speaking of communication in an emergency, you never know what may happen, so it’s a good idea to keep contact info on you. This should include any and all cell phone numbers for each family, along with landline numbers for friends or relatives who live further away (emergency contacts) and who may be able to act as intermediaries.
It’s also a good idea to have email addresses in your emergency contact information. Make sure you use web based emails that can be accessed from anywhere. During the hours after 9/11 it was almost impossible to make a phone call. Email became a way to communicate with phone lines overloaded. Text messaging may be another option when calls don’t go through.
Step 5 – Food, Water, And Medical Provisions
Last but not least it’s good to have some emergency rations on hand. Keep enough clean water, food and any medication you may need around to last for a few hours. By then either parents will have collected the children or emergency personal should have gotten to you. Again, the types of supplies and how long you should provision for will vary from program to program and emergency to emergency. Do what you can to be prepared.
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