Fire drills are a vital safety requirement for your daycare center.
Keeping the kiddos safe, after all, is every owner’s number one priority. That’s why running a monthly daycare center fire drill has to be a vital part of your operations.
In the busy back-and-forth of daily daycare life things like fire drills can be pushed into the background, but that should never be the case. It’s of the utmost importance that you have a fire drill plan ready to go and well-practiced by the kids.
Having a good evacuation plan for your daycare center fire drill will ensure safety and responsibility remain top notch and in case of emergency, everyone gets out unscathed.
Learn how to ace your daycare fire drill in our video:
Step 1: Explain the drill to the kids
You want the kiddos in your care to be fully prepared for the daycare center fire drill. Explain the reason to them and tell them what to do once the alarm is pulled. Provide a word you will use, such as “evacuation.” Tell them where to gather after evacuating. For example, in the play yard outside the center by the swings.
Staff should also have an emergency bag prepared that has toiletries, a First Aid Kit and some basic food and drink necessities. The bag should be carried out by an instructor during the drill.
Step 2: Pull the smoke detector / fire alarm
This might be pretty loud. Make sure you already told the kids not to plug their ears or run and hide, and instead to head for the agreed-upon meeting point outside. Also ensure that you have called the local fire department or fire alarm monitoring company to inform them your center is doing a fire drill so fire trucks don’t show up in response to your daycare fire drill.
Step 3: Keep calm and exit the building
Say “evacuation” or “fire,” loudly, as already discussed with the kids and have them leave the building. Staff and students should exit calmly. Check that nobody is left in the daycare center. Remind kids not to take their belongings with them. In a real fire, kiddos would not have time to grab their stuff, and it’s vital they treat a drill as a real practice, not just as exciting or fun.
Don’t run, and tell students not to run. Running can increase confusion and the danger of bumping into someone or getting stuck in a crowd. Instructors will have to safely and carefully combine any babies into an emergency evacuation crib (generally 4 babies per crib) and wheel them to the meeting point.
Step 4: Take attendance
Do roll call, having each youngster shout “here” and raise their hand as you call their name. For babies, check carefully that all have been brought outside in emergency evacuation cribs. Ensure that they’re peaceful and safe in their crib. Check off attendance on a list as you call each child’s name. Walk down the line after to double-check the head count. You should also keep a fire drill record.
Step 5: Assess
Record the total amount of time it took to evacuate and write it down. Reset the alarm and tell kids when they can go back in the daycare center. Discuss any challenges that arose with fellow staff. Remember that building a can-do atmosphere and showing appreciation to your staff for a job well done is one of the ways to boost staff morale. Later, talk over one or two things with the kids if there are things they can work on. For example, leaving in an orderly fashion, not making loud noises, or responding more promptly when their name is called during attendance.
If you notice that a problem is consistently popping up during a drill and you can’t fix it on your own, it might be time to bring in professional help. Experts can explain the details of fire drills – both to the staff and the kids.
This can sometimes be costly, so it’s good to look into ways of earning extra revenue by filling your daycare’s empty spots, and allocate the funds to what matters most: safety.
Author: Hopping In Blog
Sholom Strick is an expert on the business of running daycare centers and founder of Hopping In, a tool that helps childcare centers and family daycare providers fill unused spots.
To contact him or for media inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org