Summer Is a Good Time to Evaluate Safety
Warmer Sundays mean more time spent outdoors with kids in Sunday school and other programs. This means more opportunities for accidents and injuries. Providing a safe environment for children comes through planning. Here are some important points to consider.
Stock your first-aid kit
A well-stocked first-aid kit and supplies are absolute requirements for your childhood area. Keep them out of the reach of children, but readily accessible to teachers. Some essentials to include in your kit.
- Tweezers (to remove a splinter or insect sting)
- Scissors (to cut gauze)
- Adhesive bandages
- Sterile gauze pads and adhesive tape for bigger wounds
- Antibiotic ointment
- Frozen wet washcloth in zip-lock bag (Hint: use a red or dark-colored washcloth. If a wound is bleeding, the blood is less visible on a dark-colored washcloth and may not frighten a child as much.)
- Disposable gloves (always use when treating an injury where blood is present)
Develop a security policyOne option is to have a "security cork board" with a simple cup hook with two permanent name tags for each child. Include a photo of each child and his parents. Write individuals’ names on the photo. A teacher can see at a glance what the parents look like and check the names. When the child is being received at the door, one name tag is given to the parent. The other is left in the room.
Another option is to use a simple "trading card" system, in which you "trade" a card for the child. The parent brings the card back and "trades" it for the child. No matter what security system you use, be certain only authorized adults pick up preschoolers at the end of teaching sessions.
The key to any of these systems is to have backup procedures in place if someone tries to pick up a child without the proper card, ticket, or tag. A teacher might not insist on identification when she knows the family, or she may feel rude, awkward, or intimidated if the person is a stranger to her. In either case if the system is bypassed, it is rendered useless.
To avoid such difficulties, be sure your security network includes a backup system such as a welcome desk where child information cards are filed. This card includes names of everyone authorized to pick up that child. If someone lacks the proper security system ID the teacher refers him to the welcome desk. If the person is not on the list, the child's parent or guardian is contacted.
Develop a security policy that includes
- An identification system to ensure that only authorized adults may pick up a child from preschool classrooms.
- Background screening for paid and volunteer staff. (Sample forms: Volunteer Worker Application and Criminal Record Release.)
- A statement requiring at least two adult workers to be present at all times for activities involving children.
- A statement prohibiting one worker from ever being alone with one child.
- A minimum period of church membership (at least six months) before an adult may apply to work with children.
- A statement barring all persons with prior incidents of sexual misconduct involving minors from working with children in any capacity.
- Guidelines for reporting incidents of sexual abuse at church.
Train teachers in infant/child CPR
Take a child’s view of your preschool rooms. Do toys have small parts that might be swallowed? Are electrical outlets covered with plastic plugs? Is there anything with a sharp edge that might harm the child?
Are teachers in your department certified in pediatric CPR? Do they know how to save a choking child? Encourage as many teachers as possible to become CPR certified. Call your local Red Cross and plan a time at your church for the class. Make it a fun, educational time by taking plenty of pictures. Offer snacks and inexpensive door prizes. Take group pictures of the teachers holding their certificates when they complete the class. Make a sign that says
"We are certified now in infant/child CPR because we are committed
to providing a safe, loving place for your child."
Post and practice evacuation routes
Is your childhood ministry prepared for a natural disaster?
- Do you have an evacuation route map posted by the door in the event of tornado, fire, or other emergency?
- Do you have a plan to get all the children out safely and quickly?
- Are parents aware of the designated area in which to pick up preschoolers and older children in the event of an emergency situation?
- Do you have tornado and fire drills at least once a year?
If you feel unsure about whether or not you are prepared for an emergency or disaster, call your local Red Cross, fire department, or emergency management agency for help.