With a number of states affected by unprecedented bushfires this week and educational authorities closing more than 300 schools in NSW, the message is: be prepared, decide early. Yet what does this mean for early childhood education and care services? Most emergency fire management plans are designed for individuals, families and households. How do you and your early childhood service prepare and respond? You may be safe this week but are you thinking ahead and prepared for future fires or natural disasters?
ECA Spoke with Meg Mendham CEO of Community Connections Solutions Australia (CCSA) who is located in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney and wants early childhood organisations and educators to think now about the children, families and employees in their service. The following blog was adapted from a CCSA Facebook notification. It is not a comprehensive list but it aims to encourage you to think about the immediate threat to your staff, families and children and to make early decisions about what needs to be done. It is adapted and published here with permission.
To all our CCSA members and friends we are thinking of those facing the devastation of fires thus far and urge others to stay safe in the coming days.
We encourage you to make assessments of your service delivery over the coming days based on the following:-
- advice from local authorities and emergency services,
- consultation with your approved provider/management committees,
- your services emergency policy and procedures
- if you need to evacuate children in an emergency from your service, are roads safe for parents to be traveling on, is there only one road access?
- is your local school operating?
- are bus runs operating?
- is your service potentially in a dangerous situation with the fire predictions?
- can your staff leave their homes?
- can staff leave their family if they are facing their own fire threats?
- have you checked with your local emergency services advice?
- does your community have access to electricity and water?
- These are only a few considerations, but enough to encourage good decision making. It is important to make these decisions based on the assessment and evidence you have.
- The message is to be safe, think ahead to remain safe and encourage others to do the same.
CCSA plans to grow its ‘Think Ahead’ Emergency Campaign and already provides CCSA members with an online resource—When your service is affected by a natural disaster—to assist in thinking through and preparing for a natural disaster. You can find more about CCSA services here: www.ccsa.org.au