Fire could occur anywhere, anytime. Even in a daycare center.
One way of mitigating the effects of fire is by being prepared. Many casualties in fires are due to the lack or absence of preparation so by the time disaster strikes, people just panic. It is not uncommon to hear of cases of people jumping out of windows during fire – avoiding the fire but not the instant death awaiting below.
Daycare centers, just like any building or establishment, is susceptible to fires also. No matter how one tries to be careful, there could always be a reason for fire to start. Even with preparation there will be always injuries or casualties in fires and the situation gets even worse in a daycare center because of the presence of very young children who will not know what to do if such disaster will happen.
A fire evacuation drill involving the staff members and the children in the daycare center must be periodically conducted to prepare them for such eventuality. This will prevent panic attacks because each staff member will know what step to follow and where to go.
The fire drill conducted periodically must follow the following procedures:
• Establish escape routes. At the sound of the fire alarm, staff members must know the escape route to follow from every point in the daycare center. Each individual should know that if he is in a specific place or room in the facility, which escape route is assigned for that area. This will prevent confusion that could result to people running against each other.
• Children to care for. Each staff member should know which children he is supposed to gather and lead towards the exit point. Having specific children assigned to a particular person will minimize the chances of leaving somebody behind in the confusion that normally follows a fire alarm bell. This will also pinpoint accountability in case a child is left out.
• Orderly evacuation. Evacuation must be done in an orderly manner. The area that is closest to the “source of fire” must be evacuated first followed by the next area and so on. Practicing on an orderly evacuation can prevent panic and confusion when the situation is for real.
• Exit doors. Exit doors must be clearly marked for the purpose and they must remain unlocked while the daycare center is open for business. As much as possible, these exit doors must open outward for convenience and easy of exit. It will be difficult to open an inward door especially when there is a rush to get out.
• Designated evacuation area. There should be one designated evacuation area where everybody is supposed to meet and gather after exiting from the building. There could be an alternative evacuation area when the main area is not safe for evacuation.
While panic and confusion cannot be totally avoided in case of fire, constant practice of the procedure during fire evacuation drills give everybody in the daycare center a “feel” of the situation which will give them a degree of confidence handling a real emergency situation.
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