Playground: A lifesaver for teachers dealing with emergency situations

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The importance of safety in childcare services

Your childcare centre is often bustling with activity as children play, learn and grow in a nurturing environment. But as you know, emergencies can occur at any given moment, and it’s crucial that your centre is equipped to deal with emergency situations.  

When it comes to caring for young children, safety is of the utmost importance in the childcare business. Childcare facilities in New Zealand should be ready to respond quickly and effectively in the event of an emergency. To address the safety and wellbeing of the children at your service, you must have an emergency response plan in place should there be a power loss, natural disaster or medical emergency.  

Instructors and support staff need to be familiar with emergency protocols and have access to all the tools necessary to respond swiftly and efficiently. You can protect children in your care from harm and reduce the severity of any potential disaster by having thorough and easily accessible emergency plans.  

Emergency standards for ECE services for dealing with emergency situations 

The Education and Training Act of 2020 lists the minimum standards that each ECE service must meet. These criteria are used during inspections to assess whether centres meet the minimum standards mandated by the government for dealing with emergency situations.  

One of the standards a service needs to meet during emergencies is Health and Safety. Health and Safety criterion 7 (HS7) requires services to have a written emergency plan that includes necessary supplies to guarantee the adequate care and safety of children.  

Required Documentation 

 A written emergency plan that contains at least:  

  1. A procedure for evacuating the premises. 
  2. A list of safety and emergency supplies and resources adequate for the age and quantity of children and adults at the service, as well as details on how these will be maintained and accessed in the event of an emergency. 
  3. Specifics on the duties and responsibilities that will apply in the event of an emergency. 
  4. A strategy for communicating with families and support services. 
  5. Proof of at least an annual evaluation of the strategy and implementation of improved procedures as needed.

The Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management under the Ministry of Education wants ECE services to be well prepared to ensure childcare centres can respond safely and effectively to emergencies and transition swiftly to a smooth recovery process.

Checklist for hazards while dealing with emergency evacuation

When it is unsafe to remain on the premises, an evacuation will be required, but only as a last resort. An evacuation is the removal of children, workers and visitors from a dangerous area to a safer one. In many circumstances, the incident may be unexpected, and evacuation will be an immediate and urgent necessity (fire, gas leak, tsunami, etc.). 

Closeup of a hand typing on a laptop with several icons floating above, representing keeping parents informed as you're dealing with emergency situtations

How Playground and Discover help you when dealing with emergency situations

Discover is an essential resource for New Zealand childcare centres, especially in emergency situations. With the option to send bulk emails to parents, services may communicate critical information to parents quickly and efficiently during a crisis. For example, centres might use Discover to send out mass emails with instructions for families or updates about children, including head counts, in case of a lockdown or evacuation. This provides peace of mind to parents and guardians and can help them feel more informed and prepared, lowering stress and anxiety during an already stressful situation. 
 
An emergency list is one of the tools in Playground that addresses the required documentation. This feature allows teachers to create, view and report on any kind of emergency that happens in your centre. This includes evacuations, lockdowns and even drills conducted at the centre. The emergency list will show a list of all children who have been booked in for the day, as well as their Parent/Guardian details and Emergency Contacts. During a crisis, the safety of the children at the centre takes precedence over anything else. Playground’s emergency list includes the ability to access and record emergency lists even when teachers are not connected to the Internet. However, the report will upload once Internet access has been restored. 

Documents, Tables, and Observations are all valuable tools within Playground for sharing important information with teachers, staff and families. Emergency contact numbers, first-aid procedures, evacuation plans, emergency drills and updates to centre operations can all be communicated through Playground.  

Documents and Tables 

Proper documentation is crucial in the annual review of an emergency plan for early childhood services. Evaluation of emergency preparedness and evidence of emergency drills can be planned and documented using Documents and Tables in Playground. 

It is essential to conduct regular emergency drills to make all staff and children familiar with evacuation procedures. The emergency scheme must be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure its effectiveness.  

Staff can use Playground to record details of the drill, such as the date, time, number of children and staff involved, and any observations or issues that arose during the drill. The recorded information can be used to review and improve emergency procedures for the safety and wellbeing of all children and staff at your early childhood service. 

Teachers can also use Tables to provide families with a checklist outlining how to prepare for emergencies at home.  

Observations 

Observations can be used to send messages to families and keep them informed about critical updates or events, such as emergency drills or centre closures.  

Successful services emphasise health and safety safeguards to provide parents with peace of mind. Software platforms, like Playground, are valuable tools for prioritising health and safety and remaining compliant.  

By using Documents, Tables and Observations, teachers can keep staff and families well informed and prepared in the event of an emergency. 

Documentation is an integral part of ensuring the safety of staff and children in early childhood services. By maintaining accurate records and written procedures, early childhood services can minimise the risks associated with emergencies.  

Playground provides a comprehensive suite of health and safety tools that prioritise children’s wellbeing and help childcare centres comply with the Ministry of Education’s guidelines, even in the event of an emergency. With the help of Playground, your service can help keep children safe while also offering parents the peace of mind they need to entrust their children to your care. 

Visit our Playground page for ways your centre can use our teacher app to keep children safe when dealing with emergency situations.

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Zeus Martinez

Marketing Content Specialist

Wordsmith and storyteller at heart. Writing professionally since 2005. Living and breathing in the childcare education sector as a marketing copywriter for Discover by Xplor.

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