Emergency Preparedness: Regulatory Guidance for Sheltering Children in Place
As more States implement formal emergency planning processes for the child care sector, planning for both family reunification and sheltering children in place are becoming part of the national landscape for regulatory agencies and other stakeholders. Recently, the congressionally mandated National Commission on Children and Disasters (NCCD) issued its final recommendations to the President and Congress. In its report, National Commission on Children and Disasters 2010 Report to the President and Congress (October 2010), NCCD recommends the following with regard to including emergency preparedness and response measures in regulation:
The Commission recommended in its Interim Report that disaster preparedness for child care be ensured through two measures: requiring States to include disaster planning in their minimum health and safety standards for child care licensure or registration; and developing statewide child care disaster plans with State and local emergency managers and other agencies involved in child care. State plans should include guidelines for the continuation of child care services in the aftermath of a disaster, including the provision of emergency and temporary child care services and temporary operating standards. At a minimum, provider plans should include provisions for evacuation and relocation, shelter-in-place or lock-down procedures, communication and reunification with families, continuity of operations, accommodation of persons with disabilities and chronic medical conditions, staff and volunteer training, and practice drills. (p. 81).
The full report is available at http://www.childrenanddisasters.acf.hhs.gov. NCCIC does not endorse any non-Federal organization, publication, resource, or practice.
State Licensing Regulations
A review of State child care center licensing regulations revealed that six States (DC, DE, NJ, PA, TX, VA) have regulations pertaining to sheltering children in place.
Rules for Early Care and Education and School-Age Centers (1/1/2007)
278. A licensee shall develop a written plan for procedures in the event that children and staff must remain at the Center for an extended period due to a natural or man-made disaster.
A. This plan shall include a list of emergency supplies for the care of children and procedures for feeding children and staff during the extended stay at the Center.
District of Columbia
DCMR 29 Public Welfare – Chapter 3 Child Development Facilities (4/27/2007)
369.9 Each Facility shall develop written emergency contingency plans and procedures to be followed in case of fire, natural or man-made disaster, loss of power, heat or water service, unsafe indoor temperatures, and any other dangerous environmental condition. These shall include procedures for evacuation as well as for sheltering in place, as deemed appropriate or as directed by authorized government officials.
Chapter 122 – Manual of Requirements for Child Care Centers (8/25/2009)
1. The center shall prepare written emergency procedures delineating:
ix. Procedures for ensuring children’s safety and communicating with parents in the event of evacuation, lockdown, natural or civil disaster and other emergencies.
Chapter 3270 – Child Day Care Centers (5/2009)
§ 3270.27. Emergency plan.
(a) The facility shall have an emergency plan that provides for:
(1) Shelter of children during an emergency including shelter in place at the facility and shelter at locations away from the facility premises.
Chapter 746: Minimum Standard Rules for Licensed Child-Care Centers (3/1/2008)
Must I have an emergency evacuation and relocation diagram?
(a) Yes. Your emergency evacuation and relocation diagram must be on file at the childcare center and must show the following:
(4) The designated location inside the child-care center where all caregivers and children take shelter from threatening weather.
Standards for Licensed Child Day Centers (3/6/2008)
22 VAC 15-30-610. Procedures for emergencies.
A. The center shall have an emergency preparedness plan that addresses staff responsibility and facility readiness with respect to emergency evacuation and shelter-in-place. The plan, which shall be developed in consultation with local or state authorities, addresses the most likely to occur emergency scenario or scenarios, including but not limited to natural disaster, chemical spills, intruder, and terrorism specific to the locality.
4. Shelter-in-place to include:
a. Scenario applicability, inside assembly points, head counts, primary and secondary means of access and egress;
b. Securing essential documents (sign-in records, parent contact information, etc.) and special health supplies to be carried into the designated assembly points; and
c. Method of communication after the shelter-in-place;
Emergency Planning Guides
Some States have developed emergency preparedness guidelines for child care provider use. The following are examples of State emergency planning guides for sheltering children in place during emergencies.
Emergency Care Guidelines, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/daycare/pdf/dph_Emer_guide_eng.pdf
The document states the following:
Emergencies may require you to shelter in place (use of any room or interior space for the purpose of providing temporary shelter from a hazard). If this is the case, the following procedures should be followed:
1. Gather all children inside
2. Close and lock all windows and doors; locked windows seal better
3. If there is a danger of explosion, close blinds, shades or curtains and keep children away from windows
4. Turn off heating, cooling, fans or ventilation systems – anything that can ignite and cause a spark
5. Do not allow anyone to enter or leave the building until emergency personnel determine the area is “all clear”
6. Notify parents/guardians not to pick children up until incident is over
The following is a list of recommended supplies to always have available in the event you must shelter children in your facility or to take with you to an alternate facility to which you are being evacuated:
- Emergency contact and medical information for all children enrolled
- Emergency contact information for all staff
- 1 Gallon of water per child
- Disposable cups
- One or more changes of clothing for each child
- Disposable diapers and pull-ups
- Wet wipes and tissues
- Powdered or canned infant formula for each infant
- Powdered or canned milk
- Non-perishable food items
- Non-electric can opener
- Supplies of critical medications for children and staff (insulin, epi-pens, etc)
- Disposable cups, plates, eating utensils
- Hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes
- Baby food
- Books and other materials to keep children occupied
- Battery operated radio with extra batteries
- Flashlights with long life batteries
- First aid kit
- A cell phone
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities if directed
- Garbage bags
Emergency Response Planning Guide for Iowa Child Care (February 2003), by Healthy Child Care Iowa,
The document states the following:
Shelter-in-place simply means staying inside the building you are in. During an unintentional release of toxic chemicals or other emergencies where air quality is threatened, shelter-in-place keeps the occupants inside of a building and out of potential danger. Local authorities will issue orders for shelter-in-place during the event of a chemical emergency. Local officials will relay emergency action steps to the media on a continual basis until the incident is over.
Once the order for shelter-in-place has been issued, do not leave your building location until you receive official notification that the danger has passed. To maintain a secure seal, close and lock all the doors and windows to the outside. Assure that ALL facility staff know how to unlock doors quickly in the event that a fire or interior threat would occur during the “shelter-in” place incident. If possible, bring outdoor pets inside. Turn off all heating and air conditioning systems. Switch air intakes to the closed position. Seal any gaps around window-installed air conditioners. Turn off all exhaust fans in kitchens, bathrooms and any other spaces. Close all fireplace dampers. Close as many internal doors as possible. Use tape and plastic food wrapping, wax paper or aluminum wrap to cover and seal fireplaces, bathroom exhaust, grilles, range vents, dryer vents, and other openings to the outdoors to protection.
If the vapors begin to bother the staff and children, hold wet cloths or handkerchiefs over the nose and mouth. For a higher degree of protection, go into the bathroom(s), close the door(s) and turn on the shower(s) in a strong spray to “wash” the air. Do not worry about running out of air to breathe. This is very unlikely in normal homes and buildings. (pp. 4–5)
Updated November 2010