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This week we have a guest blog from Kevin Boreham, MD of Fast R Solutions in Worcester an expert on Fire Safety.

Fire Safety is a big issue for any Day Nursery or Pre-school. Whilst many Day Nurseries and Pre-schools may believe that the building owner is responsible for ensuring there are fire exits, extinguishers and alarms, actually it is the ‘responsible person’ that has the responsibility in the event of a fire occurring. That responsible person in terms of Fire Safety could be you!

In terms of Fire Safety it is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that places the duty of care squarely on the responsible person.

The responsible person should ensure that suitable fire evacuation measures area in place and those measures should be tested. This usually involves getting employees and others to evacuate the building.

However, when dealing with the very young it can be a contentious issue. Children can be easily scared or run and hide should something unusual occur. Does this mean you should not involve the children in your care when practicing the fire drill.

I know some playgroups who practice their evacuations with the staff only. This is a commendable approach as well drilled staff are more likely to respond correctly.

However, what happens when the unpredictable minds of children are added to the mix? Even the most well drilled staff member may find it difficult to fulfil their role when trying to comfort scared and confused children. Control is the key to a safe evacuation. As such it is my personal belief is that children should be involved, but in a way so as not to cause undue distress.

As with all safety systems having them embedded within what you normally do works best. You probably already have a way of getting the children together ready to listen and this should not differ during an evacuation. Any changes in the communication will cause confusion.

Introducing the sound of the alarm in a non-evacuation setting will allow you the opportunity to explain to the children what the noise is and what it means without the added stress of needing to get everyone out.

Practicing leaving the building and going to the assembly point is the easy bit. It is well documented that people will use the same door they came in to exit a building. Even in an emergency when they will walk past a fire exit. Using every fire door available overtime will reduce the confusion when children are asked to leave by a door not usually used.

As always making each part of this as fun to participate in will help keep children interested. Plus, introducing them to fire safety during their formative years will help keep them safe as they get older.

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