Emergency Evacuation Procedure for Childminders | Registered Childminding
Home » Childminding Policies & Procedure

Emergency Evacuation Procedure for Childminders

Updated by on August 24, 2012No Comments

Your emergency evacuation procedure should cover fires, as well as flood, gas leak or any other reason you may have to quickly evacuate your childminding setting. It might seem like you are unlikely to encounter these situations and indeed most childminders will never need to use their procedures in a real emergency, but if you do, you’ll be very glad you have them.

It might be tempting just to quickly jot down a policy or use a template, but writing this policy is about more than just ticking off your paperwork requirements, you should see it as an opportunity to really think about what you would do in an emergency situation.

Thinking about potential emergencies in advance gives you time and a cool head to decide what to do; in an emergency, you may only have seconds to make decisions, so any thinking you can do before the event will save you time, help you make better choices and ultimately could save lives.

Legislation/Guidance

The first step when writing policies and procedures is to research any legal requirements you have to comply with and check for guidance that may inform your practice.

The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework makes having an emergency evacuation procedure a requirement for childminders:

3.54 Providers must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of children, staff and others on the premises in the case of fire or any other emergency, and must have an emergency evacuation procedure. Providers must have appropriate fire detection and control equipment (for example, fire alarms, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers) which is in working order. Fire exits must be clearly identifiable, and fire doors must be free of obstruction and easily opened from the inside.

In regards to fire, you need to conform to the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which requires you to carry out a fire risk assessment. The points that you note in your risk assessment may influence your plan for emergency evacuation, so you may like to carry that out first.

The Chief Fire Officer’s Association has issued ‘Guidance for Fire Safety in Houses or Flats used for Childminding’. This covers reducing risks, fire fighting equipment, escape routes and your escape plan in plan English.

Evacuation Plan

Your emergency procedures should include the plan for what you will do in an emergency, you might find it helpful to think of it as an ordered list of steps you will take – what you will do first, then the next step and so on. Here are some example steps:

In the event we need to evacuate the setting, I will:

  1. Use a prearranged signal (insert signal) to indicate we need to evacuate.
    In most cases, as childminding settings are relatively small, the simplest signal is clapping your hands to get attention and then saying loudly and calmly ‘We need to evacuate now’. You can use a whistle – if you always keep one to hand – and, in the case of a fire, your fire alarm may act as a signal too. The key thing is that everyone present knows what the signal(s) is and what it means. A whistle will only work if children know this signals the need to evacuate and not that you’re trying out a new musical instrument.
  2. Evacuate the children via the nearest exit (see floor plan), encouraging children to walk who can do so and carrying those that can’t, and in the case of fire shutting any doors behind us.
    It seems obvious, you’ll go out the nearest door, but what if that door is blocked – where will you go then? If you keep the door locked for security, do you keep a key near it? A door or window isn’t an exit if you can’t get through it without going past the fire to get the key. You may like to draw a floor plan of your house indicating the exits as well as any other relevant information such as the location of a fire blanket and assembly point.
  3. We will not stop to put on shoes, coats or collect any belongings.
    You probably have a routine for putting on shoes and coats, maybe collecting comfort items before going out. In an emergency, you have to put aside the routine. Remember even if it’s cold outside you should be able to take shelter with a neighbour or the emergency services will provide blankets/a warm car to sit in. It’s important to practice this with children who may be used to grabbing all sorts of things to take with them.
  4. If possible, I will take a phone and list of contacts.
    Once you are safely outside you need to contact the emergency services; if you are evacuating past a phone, this is one thing you might grab. Another item you could prepare in advance is a list of emergency contacts for the children in your care. In some cases, contact information for parents will be filled away, on computer or spread over several documents and impractical to take with you in a hurry. In this situation, having a single sheet near the exit point means that you have the information to inform parents and arrange collection, if you are not able to re-enter the building. Ofsted’s number and the number for a back up childminder are other useful contacts.
  5. We will gather at the assembly point, which is …
    An assembly point is a designated safe location where you’ll go, so you can check everyone is accounted for and call for help. It could be the end of your garden, if you go out the backdoor, or a particular streetlight or patch of grass for the front – somewhere you can easily explain to children as the spot they must go. You may need to send a child outside whilst you collect another from a different room and they need to know where to wait or if you are working with an assistant you may leave the building at different times.
  6. I will contact the emergency services.
    If you have a phone you would use this to dial 999, but what if you couldn’t get the phone or just forgot it in the rush? What would you do then? A good backup plan is using your neighbours or, if you are next to a business, you could ask them to call.
  7. We will wait in a safe place until the emergency services state it is safe to re-enter the building or I can arrange for children to be collected.
    Think about where you will go in the period between reaching your assembly point and parents arriving to collect children or you returning to the building. Once you’ve everyone gathered together, you may need to think a little more long term, particularly if parents have to travel some distance – perhaps a friend, relative, neighbour or backup childminder – have someone in mind.
  8. I will inform Ofsted (or the registration body in your area) of the Incident.
    You will need to inform Ofsted of incidents, such as a fire, if you are unsure if you need to inform them – call and ask. In some cases, you will also need to make a report under RIDDOR.

Note: Attempting to put out the fire is not on the list because your priority should be to remove yourself and any children present safely from the building.

In Advance

In order to follow the steps you’ve set out in your escape plan there are some things that you will need to prepare in advance. It’s all very well to make your first step ‘blow a whistle’ but that only works if you’ve already bought a whistle(s) and located them in easily accessible places! In the escape plan above, things that you would need to pre-prepare are:

  • A pre arranged signal indicating you need to evacuate – this should form part of your practice evacuations.
  • A floor plan of your home showing the exits, the assembly point and noting any important features such as the location of your fire blanket. A floor plan is not a necessity, you can just note the exits points; you might find it helpful if you have a complicated layout or want to use it as a visual cue when planning or explaining your evacuation procedure.
  • Keeping the potential exits you’ve identified clear day to day. Things like pushchairs are tempting to leave near the door, or maybe leaving wet shoes on the doormat to dry. However, in an emergency evacuation these could be a hazard as you are trying to exit rapidly and visibility may be impaired.
  • A list of contacts, which must be kept up to date, stored securely but in an easily accessible location e.g. a sealed envelope in a cupboard near the exit.
  • Carrying out practice drills with children to help them and you learn how to evacuate safely.

Practice Drills

Practicing your evacuation will help you and the children in your care, and any other staff such as assistants, remain calm and evacuate efficiently in the case of a real emergency. You’ll remember the steps better if you’ve walked through them rather than just written them on paper.

Don’t scare children, warn them about the drill and take things calmly and slowly, explaining in simple terms what you are doing and why, and congratulate them on doing the right things. Keep practices safe – whilst you might lower a child out of a window or go outside in the snow with no shoes in an emergency – don’t do it in practice!

You should carry out practice drills regularly, for example monthly, termly or when you have new children join the setting, and you should keep a record of when you’ve done them so you know if it’s time for another.

Revising Your Plan

A practice drill is also a good opportunity to test your evacuation procedures to see if they need any changes. You may find that you encounter practical issues you haven’t thought of, such as how you will coral children in different rooms to get them outside, or what you will do if one is asleep upstairs or how you’ll need to alter your plan depending on the location of the fire.

You should revisit your emergency evacuation procedures regularly. You may need to adapt your plan to accommodate children with special needs, for example incorporating a visual as well as verbal signal, or depending on the age and number of children you are caring for.

It’s good practice to date your procedures so you can see when you last updated them.

Fire Safety

Although your emergency evacuation procedures are about the practical steps you would take in the case of an emergency, such as a fire, you may also find it a convenient place to note precautions you have taken to avoid/mitigate emergencies, particularly fires such as:

  • I have carried out a fire safety risk assessment.
  • I have smoke alarms fitted on each floor, these are tested weekly and the batteries changed annually.
  • I have a CO2 detector located…
  • I have a fire blanket located in the kitchen.
  • I carry out regular fire drills with children.
  • Exits are kept clear of toys, pushchairs and other items at all times.
  • I have a no smoking policy.

Enter your email address to receive a monthly update with articles and news to help you run your childminding business:

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.