Key Terms

Alert: Signal, sound, or other indication that warns of an emergency.

All clear: Signal given by officials that the danger is over for the time being.

Emergency: An unexpected and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.

Emergency kit: Collection of basic items your early childcare education program may need in the event of an emergency (e.g., food, water, medications) in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours.

Emergency preparedness: Procedures you develop to make sure you are safe before, during, and after an emergency. These response-and-recovery plans are important for your safety in both natural and man-made emergencies.

Evacuation: When emergency conditions require that you seek immediate protection at another location.

FEMA emergency declaration: Authorizes FEMA to identify, mobilize, and provide equipment and resources to assist with the emergency.

First responder: Any individual who responds to help others in an event, such as fire, law enforcement, and emergency medical personnel. 

Lockdown: A shelter-in-place procedure that is used in situations with intruders or emergencies that involve potential violence. Lockdown requires children and adults to shelter in a safe room, lock doors, and remain quiet until the event is over. 

Mitigation: The effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of emergencies. For mitigation to be effective, action needs to be taken before an emergency. 

Recovery: What happens as soon as the emergency is over, when efforts are focused on food, water, shelter, and the safety of those affected.

Response: What happens beginning the moment you are alerted to an impending emergency and continues as the emergency occurs.

Reunification: Bringing children and their families together after an emergency.

Safe room: Space where children and adults can hide during lockdown or shelter-in-place responses. 

Lockdown safe room: If you cannot evacuate, lock the door of the room you are in. In the room, your safest location is out of the intruder/shooter’s view (away from doors and windows). If you are able, spread out to make it more difficult for the intruder.

Shelter-in-place safe room: Ideally, a small, interior windowless room on the lowest level, below ground in a basement or storm cellar, is best. Stay away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. 

Shelter-in-place: When emergency conditions require that you seek immediate protection in the building you are in. Potential shelter-in place situations include tornadoes, earthquakes, severe weather, landslides, or debris flow. Shelter in-place entails closing all doors, windows, and vents and taking immediate shelter in a readily accessible location. 

Tornado-safe position: A position that keeps you and children safe during a tornado that involves getting low to the ground, covering your head, and, if there are infants in your program, center, or home, holding them close to you and protecting their heads. 

Tornado-safe room: Ideally, a small, interior windowless room on the lowest level, below ground in a basement, or storm cellar.

Warning: Issued when a hazardous event that poses a threat to life or property is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring.

Watch: Issued when the risk of a hazardous event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so that those who need to set their plans in motion can do so.