Many businesses and organisations don’t take the risks of fires seriously, thinking that it will never happen to them and when it comes to fire drills, just going through the motions of carrying out a rehearsed “line up and walk out quickly” approach.
While in a lot of cases, a fire may never occur, if in the case that one does, it is absolutely essential that these measures are implemented and taken seriously.
In a childcare environment especially, you don’t only have your business to protect but also young lives that are an even bigger priority. To keep them as safe as possible, preventing a disaster such as a fire should be at the very top of your list.
Here are 6 ways that you can do just that in your nursery.
1. Conduct a fire risk assessment
Maintaining a safe nursery environment should be the single most important thing that you do when thinking about fire safety. You can do this by carrying out a fire risk assessment of your premises. You need to be making note of:
- Fire hazards – such as sources of ignition (e.g electrical equipment, cooking equipment, heaters) and fuel sources (e.g cardboard, paper, fabric)
- Structural measures – such as fire walls and doors, panic bars, and fire exits
- People most at risk – younger children won’t have the safety awareness or understanding that older children have
- People who will need assistance in an emergency – are there any children or staff with mobility issues or disabilities?
2. Review your fire risk assessment annually
It’s essential for safety that you always keep your fire risk assessment up-to-date, so make sure to update it whenever anything changes in your nursery environment. This includes changes to building layout, procedures or operations. By reviewing it annually, even if nothing changes, you can be sure that all measures are in place. In more cases than not, something has been missed or not added from before, so an annual review is a great way to catch anything that has passed under the radar.
3. Install fire safety equipment
Preventing fires from occurring in the first place is the most effective safety strategy but you still need to make sure that you have the necessary fire equipment at hand to manage one in the case of an event. Smoke alarms need to be installed and tested in multiple rooms to make you aware of a potential danger as it arises, while carbon monoxide alarms are a must too. Water and CO2 fire extinguishers are a necessity as you can train your staff to quickly prevent a fire from escalating if safe to do so. Also, consider fire blankets for kitchen areas and fire safety signage.
4. Service fire safety equipment annually
Making sure that you service your fire safety equipment such as your fire extinguishers every year is the best peace of mind that you can give yourself. Imagine, in the event of a fire, that your fire extinguishers didn’t work? Or that injuries occurred or lives were lost because your smoke alarms didn’t go off? Not only could the consequences be dire, but you could have prevented them from occurring in the first place just by checking that your equipment worked.
5. Create a fire safety strategy
Most fires can be prevented through staff awareness and attention to safety considerations, so create a fire safety strategy that everyone can follow to maintain a safe and secure nursery environment. Outline daily safety checks that staff members need to be upholding, train them in safety and emergency procedures, outline an effective emergency exit plan (A and B in different situations, i.e if the main exit is blocked). Choose and train designated fire wardens to assist with an evacuation.
6. Hold regular fire drills
Fire drills are just as essential for adults and staff members as they are for the children, so practice as much as possible to normalise this. Help everyone become familiar with the exit plan and where to assemble in the case of an emergency, and if you can, simulate different scenarios that may arise. The aim of these drills is so that everyone can recognise the alarm and become familiar and therefore less scared of the situation should it ever arise.
Need More Help with Fire Safety for Your Nursery?
Child Care Health and Safety Wales provides many publications and resources on Health and Safety in a nursery setting, including a Fire Safety Pack that gives you everything you need to comply with current Fire Safety Regulations. What’s more is that you can get this for FREE if you just add it to your basket here!
If you need any advice or guidance on which other policies or packs that your nursery needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 07921 278986