There are around 6,700 childcare centres nationwide; all of which have a considerable amount of responsibilities when it comes to preventing fire. Being responsible for it is not a walk in the part, but one should see the significance of fire safety rather than dealing with damages after a blaze. Therefore, practicing basic fire prevention in child care facilities is the way to go.
Standard employee practices, as well as early childhood education, entail the ability to practice safety in places where a fire is likely to occur. For this reason, centres should effectively plan for the following:
Identifying possible emergencies
Potential emergencies that may arise at childcare centres depend on the location and the flammable materials present in the area. If your centre is nearby bushfire prone areas, it is automatically a high risk to everyone in the centre. Therefore, practicing safety procedures against bushfire should be included in the plan. Though childcare centres are urged not to use flammable materials inside the premises, there are certain things unavoidable like gasses for cooking in the kitchen. Additionally, it is a safe practice to prohibit bringing and using dangerous materials like matches, lighters, etc., which should be a substantial part of staff awareness and attention to safety considerations.
Acquiring all the necessary fire equipment
Every childcare centre is required to have a complete set of fire equipment present around the premises. Install fire extinguishers, fire sprinkler systems, fire blankets, fire detectors, alarms, fire exit signs, and lighting. All the appropriate fire systems and equipment can be obtained through the help of a professional technician. The duties of the building safety officer correspondingly include contacting the professional contractor to make risk assessments and ensure all the recommended installations are acquired and kept up to date.
Testing and maintaining
In accordance with Australian Standards AS 1851, all fire protection equipment should be maintained and kept in good working condition. Extinguishers are primarily tested annually for any signs of defects. Similar tests are performed on smoke detectors and alarms. A professional fire safety officer is responsible for conducting assessments on extinguishers and other fire-related equipment. To ensure yellow tags on these equipment show updated testing, always maintain a regular checkup. Exit signage and lighting are also among the implemented installations that need appropriate maintenance.
Practicing safety entails the knowledge of handling fire safety equipment such as the fire extinguisher. The unfamiliarity of fire extinguishers posts high risk to the establishment. As part of the training, staff must learn the basic ways of using fire extinguishers. It is rather learned through the acronym PASS:
P – Pull the pin to unlock the handles
A – Aim at the base of the fire
S – Squeeze handles to discharge suppressant
S – Sweep fire off by turning the nozzle from side to side at the base of the fire
Displaying important information
An evacuation diagram is usually the easiest way to give clear instructions to staff in the centre. It comprises identifiable icons for “exit” signs and evacuation routes with a minimum instruction for concise and easy understanding. Install them in areas where highly visible, preferably on points where people usually pass by, like the entrance. Aside from this, displaying a list of emergency telephone numbers along with the evacuation diagrams is highly encouraged. Mostly considered important are the fire brigade, ambulance, and police.
During emergencies, fighting fire isn’t always the priority. In fact, evacuating to a safe area is a primary practice in emergency planning. The best way to teaching fire safety to children is through a game or a fun exercise. Teach them to “STOP, DROP and ROLL” if their clothing catches fire, while “GET DOWN LOW, AND GO, GO, GO” is for evacuating a blazing area. It is equally necessary to include a pre-planned designated evacuation area accessible to all daycare staff and students.
Preparing evacuation pack
Children are best given the confidence that they are ready for any fire emergency. Part of it is having an evacuation pack with all their necessities like a basic first aid kit, water, nappies, blanket and parents’ contact numbers. As much as possible, keep them in accessible places or store them where the assembly area is located.
Accidents are not scheduled and foreseeable. Best practices are significantly made to implement the safest ways to prevent fire. If you have any concerns and questions regarding the safety of your childcare centre, do not hesitate to contact us so we can give you the best advice.