Bushfires and Childcare

Here is some important information about managing bushfire risk in your childcare, kindergarten or service. It’s the best way to ensure parents and carers are well prepared for a bushfire emergency.

Bushfires and Early Childhood Education and Care Services.

The National Law requires that early childhood education and care services operate in a way that ensures that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children being educated and cared for by the service from harm and any hazard likely to cause injury, including responding to potential bush fire risks.

Regulations 97 and 168(2)(e) of the Education and Care Services National Regulations require an approved provider of an education and care service to have an emergency and evacuation policy and procedure which includes the following information:

  • risk assessment to identify the potential emergencies that are relevant to the service
  • instructions for what must be done in the event of any emergency
  • emergency and evacuation procedures and a floor plan

Understanding Fire Danger Ratings

The Fire Danger Rating tells you how dangerous a fire would be if one started. It helps you to know when conditions are dangerous enough to put your bushfire survival plan in to action.

Ratings are forecast using Bureau of Meteorology data for up to four days in advance, based on weather and other environmental conditions such as fuel load.

The rating is your prompt to take action to stay safe. You can check your district’s rating here.

How you and children in your care can prepare

Have a service bushfire survival plan and discuss it with your children. Keep it up to date and make sure that all family members know what to do. If your bushfire survival plan affects others, you need to include them as well. Make sure:

  • You have up-to-date contact details (mobile phone number, email address and alternative contact number) for families.
  • Review the list of key contacts and people authorised to collect a child with families.
  • Practice your bushfire survival plan with the families and children in your care.
  • Talk to children in your care about what will happen if a bushfire emergency occurs.

Things to consider when making a plan

Consideration 1
What are your onsite and offsite evacuation procedures? Whole neighbourhoods can be impacted by bush fire and services need to identify offsite evacuation sites not in the immediate vicinity of their service.
Consideration 2
What assistance do you need to evacuate the children in your care? If any of your
children or staff have special needs or will require assistance to evacuate, services need to have pre-arrangements in place to ensure this assistance can be provided during an emergency.
Consideration 3
What assistance do you need to evacuate the children in your care? If any of your
children or staff have special needs or will require assistance to evacuate, services need to have pre-arrangements in place to ensure this assistance can be provided during an emergency.
Consideration 4
If you do evacuate, how will parents know where to find their children? Services need to ensure they retain access to parent/carer contact information once offsite. Services should also ensure that parents/carers know what these evacuation procedures are in advance of any emergency.
Consideration 5
What facilities are available at your preidentified evacuation sites?
Consideration 6
How will you ensure that children are only released to persons authorised to collect them?
Consideration 7
If it’s not safe to evacuate, are you equipped to shelter-in-place at your usual location?
Consideration 8
What mechanisms do you have in place to ensure the transfer of real-time information, such as weather forecasts, bush fire activity, site closures, and emergency operations? Services need to have arrangements in place to receive and share appropriate information and advice that will assist staff to respond appropriately.
Consideration 9
How do you make visitors and contractors aware of your service’s emergency response procedures?

Prevention Strategies

It is important that services stay up to date during periods of increased fire danger and when there is a bush fire in the local area. Services can do this by:

  • Knowing the Fire Danger Rating (FDR) for your fire area (especially on hot, dry windy days).
  • Outline bush fire response procedures at a staff meeting in late September / early October. Consider having emergency management as a standing agenda item.
  • Consult with local Fire services about your bush fire arrangements, including your evacuation plans and a shelter in place option.
  • Actively monitor information on fire activity through TV, radio and government websites.
  • Be on alert for warnings such as Bush Fire Alert levels issued by government agencies
  • Watch for signals of fire, especially smoke or the smell of smoke.

Other useful sites include

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