One really important area of safety that childminders can be complacent about is fire safety. There is no point fitting smoke detectors if you don’t regularly test they are working. You also need to hold regular fire drills, at different times of the day and with different children present. In the event of your smoke alarm going off, you and every child needs to know what to do every time.
As a childminder you have two statutory responsibilities in terms of fire safety. You must:
1. Have appropriate fire detection and control equipment
2. Have an emergency evacuation procedure
Here is a simple checklist you can use to make sure you are prepared and know what to do in case of a fire.
- Get smoke detectors fitted. If you contact your fire department they will sometimes fit them for you for free if you are childminding. Speak to your local authority support worker. Consider also getting a carbon monoxide detector fitted as well.
- Once your smoke detectors are working, write an emergency evacuation procedure and hold a fire drill. You may want to post your emergency evacuation procedure on your bulletin board?
- Start a fire drill log (or download mine) and write down how it went and what went wrong. Hold fire drills at different times of the day and with different children present. For example, I used to look after two small babies and neither could walk, plus a three year old – it is not as straightforward as it sounds to get everybody out safely all at the same time. When a new child starts, hold a fire drill.
- Start a written record of testing the batteries in your smoke detectors. You should test them once a month.
- Buy a fire blanket and/or extinguisher for your kitchen.
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