Safety Practices

Preparedness: Making Your Emergency Response Plan

Working together and communicating what to do during an event is essential. Understanding everyone’s role during an emergency before the emergency occurs helps make the response procedure quicker and more efficient. Establishing responsibilities can be addressed during training sessions and planning meetings before an emergency or drill, to ensure staff are comfortable with the procedures.

Questions to consider:

  • Who will alert staff and children about an emergency?
  • Who is responsible for taking the emergency kit?
  • Who will count heads and take attendance?
  • Who will communicate with families?
  • Who will work with first responders?

Answers to these questions will help define responsibilities around what needs to be done during an emergency, so children and adults can proceed safely.

There are many types of emergencies. In some situations, you may need to safely evacuate (example: fire). However, there are other emergencies, when it’s best to shelter in place (example: tornado or severe weather) or lockdown (example: danger in your neighborhood).

The key to remember is that each is a method to put effective barriers between you and a threat. The difference is in the types of threat and what kind of barrier is called for.

Evacuating is a means to leave a dangerous situation or area (e.g., because of a fire).

Sheltering in place is the use of a structure and its indoor atmosphere to temporarily separate you from a hazardous outdoor atmosphere (e.g., tornadoes, earthquakes, severe weather, landslides, or debris flow). It entails closing all doors, windows, and vents and taking immediate shelter in a readily accessible location.

A lockdown is 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.

If you are in a child care or Head Start center, use the worksheets, Evacuation Response in Centers, Shelter-in-Place Response in Centers, and Lockdown in Centers to help answer those questions and formulate your emergency response plan. Follow the steps and assign roles to staff for each type of emergency response that your program may experience.

If there is only one adult in a family child care home, use the worksheets, Evacuation Response in a Family Child Care Home, Shelter-in-Place Response in a Family Child Care Home, and Lockdown in a Family Child Care Home, to help formulate your emergency response plan. If there are multiple adults in a family child care home, use the worksheets for Center-Based Programs to define roles of adults in the program during an emergency.