Natural disasters are part of day-to-day life. Unlike human generated disasters or hazards, natural disasters cannot be avoided as they are driven by forces of nature. This paper aims to look at 2 scenarios of natural disasters that can take place and affect an Early-Childhood development institution, such as Head Start Programme.
The very first step would be to identify the disasters that the particular childhood setting may be exposed to. I have selected a Hurricane prone area that is also in flood prone.
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The very second step after realizing that the setting is prone to hurricanes, is to determine the building design features that may either be helpful or dangerous at the event of a hurricane occurrence. The age of the building. Features such as power supplies and emergency lighting would be an advantage in the case that a hurricane occurs.
The third step would be to clear out potentially dangerous features of the building that may prove to be dangerous in the occurrence of a hurricane. This is followed by reinforcing the existing features that may not be dangerous but are considered a weakness, such as cracked walls and reinforcing steel and concrete pillars. Installation and construction of storm bunkers may be essential to protect children from a hurricane should it be unavoidable.
The next step would be to determine an exit route should a hurricane occur. The best exit route would have to be to a designated storm shelter without having to be exposed outside as this would be defined as the “ kill zone” due to the unpredictable trajectory of flying objects. The exit route should be clear of objects that may prove to be dangerous.
The next step would be to determine the neighborhood’s hazard potency. This is how risky the neighborhood or surrounding is. Elements such a high-voltage power lines, transformers and old buildings would prove to be a massive danger.
An updated population checklist ought to be kept at all times. This would help in ensuring that all persons, staff and children are accounted for in the event of the hurricane occurring.
Regular evacuation drills ought to be conducted. This would help both staff and children learn the appropriate maneuvers in the case of a hurricane.
In the case of a flood prone area, the above procedure and the plan would be followed, only the specifics would be tailored towards water drills.
For a flood prone area, the building features do not play much of a role in the scenario of a flood. The building features come into play when determining an appropriate and safe evacuation route.
Features such as life jackets and even if possible oxygen tanks meant for diving, would come in handy for the children within the setting.
The evacuation route is essential for a flood prone area. While a hurricane’s safe place would be hidden, most probably underground in a bunker or storm shelter, the safe place for a flood would be outside on high ground.
Just as in the case of a hurricane, the neighborhood’s hazard potency ought to be assessed, and an updated population list kept at all time.
Evacuation drills have to be conducted on a regular basis too. This should be done in conjunction with the families of children and an acceptable emergency communication medium established in the case of the disaster occurring.
The preparedness and willingness of the staff members to ensure the implementation of these evacuation and preliminary procedures would mean saving their lives and most importantly, the lives of the children they care for.
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