Accidents and emergencies are serious in any setting. However, in the early year‘s environment, the shock and panic in these incidences are intensified due to the presence of children. Accidents could include falls resulting in broken bones or sprains, sharp or dangerous objects, fire or water that results in cuts, burns or shock, and the ingestion of poisonous substances, therefore it is important that you know how exactly to respond so you do so efficiently and effectively.

Following policies and procedures in the case of an emergency is essential in an early year’s setting, as not only does it provide a framework for carers to follow, but it also provides support to the other children in the vicinity. Therefore it is essential to make sure you are familiar with all procedures when working in a daycare with children.

Health and safety guidance for emergency situations include:

  • Basic First Aid
  • Responding to an Accident
  • Calling the Emergency Services
  • Responding to a Missing Child
  • Evacuation
  • Recording and Reporting Procedures

To help you respond to these accidents and emergencies, here is everything you need to know.

Responding to an Accident: Basic First Aid

Often in the case of an accident, the children involved will be frightened, so you will need to know exactly what you need to do in order to remain calm and reassure them. Due to the variety of accidents that could take place, you need to regularly be trained in first aid.

In every early year’s setting, there needs to be at least one designated first aider who is trained in first aid for young children and can respond appropriately to all kinds of situations.

Basic First Aid Procedure

In an emergency situation, you always assess it by checking DR ABCs.

D Danger – checking your own safety should always be the first step (as you’re no good to anybody if you get hurt). Check that the surroundings are safe and there are no hazards to you attending the child that is hurt. Then check for signs of bleeding, head injury, broken bones or shock.

RResponse – gently shake the child, can they respond? Are they conscious?

AAirways – are they clear? Open their mouth and check their airways, removing anything that may be dislodged there.

BBreathing – are they breathing? Listen by their nose and look at their chest for small movements.

CCirculation – check their pulse. If they have one, put them in the recovery position and call 999. If they don’t have a pulse, start resuscitation immediately while someone else calls 999. The resuscitation process should begin with 5 rescue breaths followed by 15 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths repeatedly.

Calling the Emergency Services

A child’s condition can deteriorate very rapidly following an accident, therefore it is essential that you know when emergency medical help is required. As a rule of thumb, always call for medical help if any children:

  • are unconscious
  • are convulsing or having a fit
  • are struggling to breath
  • have severe bleeding, burns or scalds
  • have a very high temperature (39°C +)

In any of these situations, it is also vital that you remain calm and are able to clearly communicate with the emergency services to get help as quickly as possible. In an emergency situation, you need to:

  1. Call 999
  2. Tell them which emergency service you require (ambulance, police, fire)
  3. Give them your location
  4. Communicate the type and seriousness of the accident
  5. Communicate the number and ages of any casualties involved
  6. Give them your telephone number so they can contact you again if needed.

Responding to a Missing Child

Although it is a rare occurrence, children can go missing from an early year’s setting, especially on outings and day trips. If every safety policy and procedure is in place and adhered to, this shouldn’t ever happen. However, if it was to, you have to be prepared to know how to respond. To ensure an efficient and effective response, you need to quickly:

  1. Inform the manager or highest person in charge
  2. Begin an organised search party to check all areas – ensure that all staff members have an efficient way of communicating with each other, e.g everyone has mobile phones on them
  3. Supervise and reassure the remaining children
  4. Inform the parents or carers if the child isn’t found
  5. Write a full report of the incident
  6. Inform the relevant authorities (e.g Ofsted)


If ever an emergency situation arises that requires a full evacuation of the setting, staff need to know what procedure to follow to ensure the safety of all children and staff. These procedures need to practised regularly so that you are prepared for any potential fire, gas leak, intruder or bomb scare situation. The basic procedure to take is as follows:

  1. Remain calm
  2. Reassure the children and explain to them what is happening as clear and simple as possible
  3. Direct everyone to the assembly point
  4. Shut all the windows and fire doors if possible in the event of a fire only
  5. Register everyone at the assembly point
  6. Call the emergency services if necessary and do not return to the building until authorised to do so – in the case of a fire, call 999 and wait for the all clear from the fire services.

Green emergency exit sign

Recording and Reporting Procedures

The recording and reporting of all incidents big or small are essential in an early years setting. Not only is it your legal duty, but it is also necessary for health and legal reasons if you ever have to access them again in the future. Always make sure to record the full incident clearly, signing and dating it immediately before filing.

The consequences of accidents and emergencies may sometimes be small, but they all have the potential to become life-threatening. It is your responsibility to make sure that all health and safety policies and procedures are adhered to and all emergency drills are practised regularly, to ensure efficient and effective responses.

When it comes to recording incidents, it is vital that you are able to produce these as evidence that you’re fulfilling the statutory requirements (outlined by the Early Years Foundation Stage 2012), so make sure these are all in place.


Need More Help with Your Nursery or Health & Safety?

Child Care Health and Safety Wales provides many publications and resources on Health and Safety in a nursery setting, including policy log books and checklists that can be tailored to your business. If you need any advice or guidance on which ones you need, don’t hesitate to get in touch. | 07921 278986