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    Objectives
    • Describe what matters most when it comes to emergency preparedness and response.
    • Identify management practices to ensure staff members are prepared to handle emergency situations.
    • Apply the content of this lesson to ensure staff are prepared to respond to emergencies.

    Learn

    Learn

    Types of Disasters

    This lesson will discuss three types of disasters: natural disasters, terrorism and pandemics. As a facility manager, you have three key responsibilities regardless of disaster type. Your job is to plan, prepare and protect. There are safety measures that are common regardless of the type of disaster, but there are also disaster-specific safety measures.

    Your actions during an emergency create an atmosphere of stability and security. Children and youth are particularly vulnerable and count on you to take all emergencies seriously and handle them effectively in accordance with yourPUBLIC program’s policies.

    Natural Disasters

    The type of natural disaster that you are likely to encounter is mostly dependent on the area in which your program is located. For example, if your program is located in California, it would be important that you and your staff are prepared for earthquakes. Natural disasters include: floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms, earthquakes, wildfires, extreme heat waves, and tsunamis. As a result of these natural disasters, there are secondary emergencies, such as natural gas explosions and power and water outages, which compound the difficulties. In the case of a natural disaster, you might have to evacuate your facility and possibly relocate to another location.

    Planning for Natural Disasters

    • Follow all emergency essential operating procedures.
    • Familiarize yourself with all aspects of yourPUBLIC program’s plan so you can better prepare your staff.
    • Connect with your local installation emergency planning team and include them in all aspects of your planning and preparation activities.
    • Identify emergency essential personnel who must report to work duringPUBLIC program closures.
    • Ensure that smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers are working, and document this monthly.
    • Develop evacuation plans that include: evacuation procedures, relocation destination, and how to escort and transport everyone to the destination, particularly children with disabilities. Evacuation locations might be different based on the type of natural disaster or emergency.
    • Ensure evacuation sites can accommodate the needs of children and youth prior to an emergency situation and that emergency supplies are in place.
    • Create an emergency provisions checklist that at a minimum includes: well-stocked first-aid kits, 72 hours worth of food, water, baby formula, blankets, a battery-operated radio, and flashlights with extra batteries.
    • Create a children's activity provisions checklist that at a minimum includes basic art supplies, such as paper and crayons, and books.
    • Develop crisis communication plans for staff and families that includes how information gets communicated, when information gets communicated, and by whom; keep it simple to reduce miscommunication.
    • Develop a system for protecting and backing up family, child, and program records electronically.
    • Develop a plan for who is responsible for important tasks during an emergency and who is responsible in your absence.
    • Develop a business continuity plan in case you need to relocate for an extended period of time.
    • Create a memorandum of understanding with behavioral health personnel to provide counseling support.

    Preparing for Natural Disasters

    • Ensure that two or more emergency phone numbers for families and staff members are current.
    • Orient new staff on emergency policies and procedures.
    • Utilize ongoing professional development to keep all staff and volunteers up to date on evacuation policies and procedures.
    • Post primary and secondary evacuation routes and procedures in classrooms, hallways and common areas.
    • Post emergency telephone numbers including police, fire, rescue, and poison control by all telephones.
    • Practice and document routine drills according to yourPUBLIC program’s policies; practice them at different times of the day so they aren't predictable.
    • Practice shelter-in-place drills according to yourPUBLIC program’s policies.
    • Provide children with age-appropriate information about natural disasters without frightening them; purchase books that show children how to cope with significant change.
    • Provide families with procedures for natural disasters.
    • Practice problem-solving scenarios and incorporate input into the plan.
    • Provide a list of resources available in the community.

    Protecting Everyone During and After Natural Disasters

    Hurricane Katrina provides a good example of how important planning and preparation are for dealing with the devastation of a natural disaster. Hopefully, those painful memories provide everyone with a better understanding of how best to handle the aftermath of such terrible acts of nature.

    • Provide a list of local, state, and federal resources to families and staff.
    • Identify essential personnel who can assist with securing necessary resources.
    • Provide an emotionally supportive environment for families, children, and staff that allow them to express fears and grief.
    • Provide a predictable daily routine as much as possible.
    • Observe for stress disorders in children, families, and staff.
    • Provide referrals to mental health personnel who can help families, children and staff cope and manage their stress.

    Planning for Acts of Terrorism

    Acts of terrorism can be against individuals or groups and include either threats or actual acts such as bombings, shootings, kidnapping, hijacking, and the use of biological weapons. Depending on the circumstances, you would most likely shelter-in-place when there are threats or acts of terrorism.

    • Follow yourPUBLIC program’s emergency operating procedures.
    • Create a shelter-in-place plan that includes the designated shelter-in-place location for each classroom and common area in the program and how to seal off the program.
    • Create an emergency provisions checklist that at a minimum includes: well stocked first-aid kits, 72 hours of nonperishable food, bottled water, baby formula, diapering supplies, blankets, a battery-operated radio, and flashlights with extra batteries.
    • Develop crisis-communication plans for staff and families that include how information gets communicated, by whom, and what the message will be. Keep it simple to eliminate miscommunication.
    • Develop a plan for who is responsible for important tasks during an emergency, who is responsible in your absence, and who is responsible for administering first-aid.

    Preparing for Acts of Terrorism

    • Post shelter-in-place diagrams and procedures in each classroom and common area.
    • Practice shelter-in-place plans at least quarterly, including gathering children's records, placing name tags on each child, using attendance sheets to make sure all children are accounted for, having everyone take cover, and placing an X on the door to denote that all children have been evacuated or are safe; include families.
    • Utilize ongoing professional development to keep all staff and volunteers up to date on shelter-in-place policies and procedures.

    Protecting Everyone During and After Acts of Terrorism

    Everyone who is old enough will remember where they were on 9/11. Our world as we knew it was forever changed. 9/11 is an example of an external act of violence. The most important thing to do after an act of violence of any kind is to return to some sense of normalcy as quickly as possible. This can be very difficult, as everyone handles these tragic events differently.

    • Familiarize yourself with your program’s installation specific resources available as well as community resources.
    • Help children, families and staff cope with the stress of the event by keeping them from frightening scenes, remaining calm, and assuring them you will keep them safe.
    • Provide an emotionally supportive environment for families, children and staff that allow them to express fears and grief.
    • Provide a predictable daily routine as much as possible.
    • Provide quiet areas away from noise and activity; provide ample time for outdoor play.
    • Observe for stress disorders in children, families and staff.
    • Provide referrals to mental health personnel who can help families, children and staff cope and manage their stress.

    Pandemics

    Pandemics are the rapid spread of severe and potentially deadly illnesses. Swine flu, or H1N1, is an example. Pandemics could result in a mandatory closing by an installation commander.

    Planning for Pandemics

    • Follow yourPUBLIC program’s emergency essential operating procedures.
    • Connect with your local health department and include them in all aspects of your planning and preparation activities.
    • Develop crisis communication plans for staff and families that include how information gets communicated, when information gets communicated, and by whom; keep it simple to reduce miscommunication.
    • Develop a business-continuity plan to carry on essential business functions while the program is closed.

    Preparing for Pandemics

    • Practice regular infection-control measures utilizing yourPUBLIC program’s specific health and sanitationPUBLIC policies.
    • Provide ongoing professional development to staff and volunteers so they are informed about how to identify a potential pandemic and what to do in case of a pandemic.

    Protecting Everyone During and After Pandemics

    • Practice social distancing, which involves avoiding public places during epidemics to reduce contact between sick and unaffected persons.
    • Provide regular communication to families and staff as to the status of the program.

    Summary

    Besides keeping children, youth and staff safe on a daily basis, there is no more important job as a facility manager than being prepared for emergencies. While you have a very full plate, it's never too full to take care of the planning and preparation for emergency situations as they could strike at any time. If ever your program is involved in an emergency situation, you want to know that if it weren't for your planning and preparation, it could have been a lot worse. The people you protect today will thank you tomorrow.

    Watch this video on why being prepared matters.

    Emergency Preparedness and Response Matters

    What matters most when it comes to emergency preparedness and response.

    Explore

    Explore

    The key to dealing with emergencies is to be well prepared. Use the following Emergency Planning document to assess your preparedness using the criteria from your PUBLIC program’s policies.

    Visit the Child Care Aware site at https://www.childcareaware.org/library/ to get planning ideas about specific conditions in your locale. .

    Apply

    Apply

    Taking the information from the Explore activity, develop an action plan for ensuring you and your staff are prepared for the criteria you assessed as "Somewhat prepared" and "Not prepared." Identify tasks to be completed, the staff members responsible, action steps to be taken, and timeframes for completion.

    Glossary

    TermDescription
    Business continuity planSet of documents, instructions, and procedures which enable a business to respond to accidents, disasters, emergencies
    EvacuationTemporary but rapid removal of people from building or disaster (or threatened) area as a rescue or precautionary measure
    Mandatory closingA command or order by a government entity to close your business either temporarily or permanently
    Natural disastersAn event caused by natural forces of nature that often has a significant effect on human populations
    PandemicsAn epidemic (a sudden outbreak) that becomes very widespread and affects a whole region, a continent, or the world
    Shelter-in-placeTo stay inside the building you are in to avoid adverse conditions in the outside environment
    TerrorismThe unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons

    Demonstrate

    Demonstrate
    Assessment

    Q1

    True or False? In the event of a natural disaster, you may need to evacuate your program facility.

    Q2

    Finish this statement: In the event of a disaster, it is your job as a program manager to…

    Q3

    What can you do to help children, families, and staff cope after a disaster?

    References & Resources

    Preparing For Disaster, What Every Early Childhood Director Needs To Know, Cathy Grace and Elizabeth Shores, 2010

    American Academy of Pediatrics (no date). Children & Disasters: Disaster preparedness to meet children's needs. Preparing Child Care Programs for Pandemic Influenza. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Children-and-Disasters/Pages/Preparing-Child-Care-Programs-for-Pandemic-Influenza.aspx

    Federal Emergency Management Agency www.fema.gov  -  http://www.ready.gov

    Child Care Aware (formerly National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies) www.childcareaware.org

    The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness (2012). Emergency Family Assistance Centers: An Examination of the Literature for Evidence-Informed Practices. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University. 

    Sesame Street: Let's Get Ready for Emergencies www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/ready