Child Care Center Disaster Response Handbook

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In order to ensure the safety of all the children who attend this center and the staff who work here, this center has developed a comprehensive Crisis/Disaster Response handbook. By putting together this plan and sharing it with parents, we are working to be prepared when disaster strikes.

Preparing for a disaster

This child care center has taken many steps to prepare the facility, children, staff, and parents, for the unexpected. Child care centers must follow WAC 170-295-5030 for disaster planning and WAC 212-12-044 for fire drills. (Note: modify this list so it matches what you have done at your center, like your center’s drill schedule or supply stockpile.)
Conducting Drills

Drills are essential to provide staff with the skills necessary to respond in times of an emergency. There are 3 different emergency drills that should be practiced on a regular basis. Sample forms for recording drills are found in Appendix E.

  • Fire (evacuation drill) – must be practiced monthly, as required by WAC (WAC 212.12 and 170.295.5030)

  • Earthquake (Drop, Cover, & Hold) – should be practiced quarterly, minimum

  • Lockdown (secure building, stay together) – should be practiced at least once a year, minimum

  • The center conducts fire drills on a monthly basis and records the dates as required by licensing.

  • The center conducts disaster drills on a quarterly/monthly basis and records the dates.

  • There are two designated escape routes from each area. Evacuation maps are posted in each classroom.

  • Other


Having adequate supplies is essential to 72-hour preparedness. See Appendix B for more information about recommended supplies.

  • The center has gathered a 72-hour preparedness kit and has included a 72-hour supply of any medications or supplies for those with special needs. This kit / These kits are kept (where).

  • The center checks its emergency kits and emergency medication expiration dates on a regular basis. This is done (how often).

  • For those with special needs or life-threatening health conditions who require medication or supplies on a regular basis or on an as-needed basis, those medications or supplies are kept on-site and will be taken along if evacuation is required.

  • Fire extinguishers are located throughout the center. The locations are (where). They are checked monthly and recharged (how often).

  • The center’s smoke alarms are checked monthly.

  • (If source of carbon monoxide is present) The center has a carbon monoxide alarm located (where). It is checked monthly.

  • Disaster supplies are kept in each vehicle.

  • Other


  • At least one corded phone is available to use if there is no electricity and we have located our nearest payphone.

  • Emergency phone numbers are posted by each phone in the center.

  • The center has designated an out-of-area contact. This contact is (name and phone number of out-of-area contact). Parents are instructed to call this number if they cannot get through to the center on the local phone grid.

  • Children will only be released to individuals listed on the child’s emergency contact form. The Center must ensure parents keep these up-to-date.
  • The center has communicated with neighbors/neighboring businesses who may be able to help out in the event of a major disaster. These include: (who)

  • Other

Hazard Mitigation

Hazard mitigation is the process reducing or eliminating the impacts of disasters before they occur. For example, securing a bookcase to the wall before an earthquake can topple it and injure occupants. An important step in disaster planning is to ensure you are operating in a safe environment. Hazard mitigation plays a huge role when it comes to preventing injuries, both on a daily basis and during a disaster. See Appendix C for more information, resources for implementing mitigation measures, and a sample checklist.

  • The center has undertaken hazard mitigation in all classrooms and main areas.

  • The center conducts a hazard mitigation walk-through monthly.

  • Other


  • Staff have been trained on how and when to shut off all utilities.

  • Older children are taught to call 911 if directed to do so by a staff member.

  • At least one staff member trained in CPR and first-aid is with each group of children as required by licensing.

  • Other

Gather information from parents

Make sure that all parents have reviewed the disaster plan and understand the steps that the center will take in the event of an emergency. All parents need to be given the center’s out-of-area contact number and should in turn provide the center with an out-of-area contact for their family (see Appendix A).

Discuss with parents their plans and availability to pick up a child after a major disaster. Some parents work nearby, while others have a long commute. If roads are blocked, it could be quite some time before the parents are able to pick up their children.

Practicing for a disaster

Child care centers are required by licensing to conduct monthly fire drills and record the date and time of each. Disaster drills need to be conducted at least quarterly. It is up to the center to choose which type of disaster they will practice for each time. It is advisable to practice earthquake drills frequently. Periodic practicing of lockdowns and shelter in place is also important. A disaster drill log has been included in Appendix D of this document. Some situations are difficult to practice for during normal operation of the center. For such scenarios involving site evacuation, it is a good idea to run through the situation verbally as a group during a staff meeting. In this way, questions can be answered and possible hurdles can be overcome.
When practicing fire or disaster drills, make sure to vary the time of day and day of the week. You cannot predict when a disaster will happen and if you’ve never practiced during pick-up time or lunch time, there could be a lot of confusion at the center. Consider conducting periodic drills without giving staff members warning. They need to be able to react, even when not mentally prepared for the situation.

All staff should receive regular training on disaster preparedness. The entire plan should be reviewed at least annually, and with all new staff as they start work. Use this handbook during staff meetings to review procedures for various disasters. Make sure you have discussed roles and responsibilities for different scenarios. Staff should be familiar with how to use a fire extinguisher and it is best if they have had practice actually using one. Make sure all staff that is required to have CPR and First Aid training is up to date on their certification. Teach staff how to shut off any utilities, such as natural gas.

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