How to Plan Your Daycare Emergency Bags
Your daycare emergency bag is more than a bag with some bandages and a snack inside 1. Your emergency bag should contain items necessary to handle any emergency until you can get real help. Daycare providers by nature are creative, plan-ahead kind of people, and where you live and what kind of emergencies are common in your area will help determine just what should be in your bag. There are, in fact, three kinds of emergency bags that you should have for a well-prepared-for daycare 1.
The first is an outing bag that you take with you to the park, the beach or wherever. This holds normal essentials, such as a first aid kit, a snack, a drink, plastic cups, a permanent marker for putting names on cups, zip-close plastic bags, blue cards with emergency info on kids, a charged cell phone and cash, including change, in case the cell phone doesn't work in an emergency.
The second bag is an emergency bag that should be stored outside your daycare facility, in a secure location that can be accessed during a structure fire or other emergency in which you remain in the immediate vicinity outside of the building 1. This bag should include enough slipper socks or tube socks for every child -- should you need to evacuate without stopping for shoes -- bottled water, snacks like granola bars and fish crackers that can be stored long term, a first aid kit and a copy of all the blue cards with emergency contacts for each child.
Store this emergency bag or storage tote away from the daycare building in an unattached garage, barn, neighbor's garage, etc. Because you won't be carrying it, you can include much larger items, such as a couple of blankets or sleeping bags for keeping children warm until emergency personnel and parents arrive. Replace the water and snacks every few months to ensure freshness.
The third emergency bag is referred to as a Bug-Out-Bag, or B.O.B., and is also called a GOOD -- Get Out of Dodge -- bag. It is the bag that you grab when you must evacuate the area as quickly as possible due to a disaster such as a tornado, hurricane, flood, terrorist attack or brush fire. It should include more cash than your outing bag, and face masks, especially if you live in a large city that might be a target of a terrorist attack. Depending on where you live, you might also add subway tokens or bus passes. Pack a first aid kit, a large blanket, some pre-packaged rain ponchos or large trash bags for rain gear, a radio, flashlights, extra batteries, toilet paper and diapers, hand sanitizer and wipes. Don't forget a few small books, puzzles and games so the children have something to do while waiting for their parents.
The snacks and drinks you store in the B.O.B should be more substantial than your outing bag, so that you can feed the children should you be stranded for several days before parents get to you.
Inform the parents of your detailed emergency plans so they know where you will bring the children and how you will take care of the them until the parents arrive.
Have an emergency contact person outside your area that parents can call to check on their kids. Call the contact person and tell him where you are and that everyone is okay. He can then relay the message and instructions to the parents when they call.
It would be great to think that the worst could never happen, but it can, and it has. New York was devastated by 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina and the flooding afterward devastated the South. Parents' worst nightmare is being separated from their children, especially in an emergency. Planning ahead can do a great deal to ease fears. An ounce of prevention IS worth a pound of cure!
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