Inclement weather, lockdowns, fire, illness outbreak… The worst can happen at any minute, and if you’re not prepared it could shut down your preschool, these 5 tips will show you how to prepare your preschool for emergencies!
Your School District’s Texting App
How do you find out about things like school closures due to weather, or an active shooter in your area? You could have the local news on in the background of your preschool, or check your Facebook feed periodically, but a more efficient way is to install your school district’s texting app. If the local schools are ever closed for the day or there is a reason to lockdown your school, you will get an alert on your phone to let you know.
What To Tell Your Families In Case Of Emergency
Now that you know about the emergency, you will need to let your parents know too. Send out a text (Remind.com is a helpful app for this) telling them that you are aware of the situation, that it is being taken care of, and that everything is A Okay. You could also send a mass email and/or do a Facebook Live in your parent portal Facebook group. Also, consider sending the information to everyone in the emergency numbers list just in case the parent doesn’t get the message.
If there are any instructions for them to follow include those in the text or let them know where they can get the needed information. When the emergency is over, text them again to let them know.
Do Emergency Preparedness Drills With Your Staff
Before there is ever an emergency (aka before you open your preschool) think through potential emergencies and how your preschool would handle them.
- What would you do in case of fire? What about if both exits are blocked?
- What would you do if there were an active shooter in your neighborhood?
- What would you do if there were a tornado warning?
- What would you do if there were an earthquake?
- What would you do if any of the above caused a prolonged power outage or loss of communications?
- What would you do if a staff member or student were diagnosed with COVID?
- What would you do if a child came to school with lice?
- What are your illness policies? (Consider special restrictions for certain diseases like Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, for example—Student cannot return until all blisters are gone to prevent the spread of the illness.)
The point of emergency preparedness is to anticipate what COULD go wrong and make a plan for it. Then, drill it into your staff so that it is very familiar in case it is ever necessary to use the information.
Practice fire drills with your students, they will think it is a game to crawl across the floor with their noses and mouths covered and follow you across the street to your meeting place. And the skills they learn could potentially save their lives someday.
You need to have a written policy handbook. Every staff member and parent needs to have a copy of these policies. Follow the CDC guidelines in case of COVID or other infectious diseases. Here are some suggestions to include in your emergency policies:
- Require your staff to be CPR and Pediatric First Aid certified and that their certifications are renewed every year.
- For lice the student can only return when there are no lice, nits, or eggs.
- A child must be diarrhea, vomiting, and fever free within the last 24 hours or they cannot return to school.
- If a child comes to school sick, follow this procedure…
What To Have On Hand In Case Of Emergency
Stock up on:
- Hand sanitizer
- Lysol Disinfectant Wipes
- Hand soap
- Paper plates
- Paper Towels
- Toilet paper
Have enough supplies to last at least one full day for every student and staff member that would be in your preschool at any given time. For example, if you have a teacher and 12 students in just one class then you would have one adult and twelve children that you would need to supply food and water for. Keep in mind that there would not be another class coming to replace the original class so you would only need to stock supplies for one class.
You will probably already have your snacks on hand, but plan for actual meals, too. Beware of allergies!
- Tuna packs
- Mac & Cheese cups
- Bottled water (1 gallon per day for adults, and enough for children, too.)
- Extra bottled water in case it is needed for handwashing or toilet flushing.
- A fully stocked First Aid Kit (rotate supplies once a year to avoid expired medications)
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- A battery operated radio in case of prolonged power outage
Spend some time developing a plan and preparing supplies “just in case” and your preschool will be well prepared for emergencies.