Regular Safety Checks
Children need the freedom to explore their environment to develop and strengthen connections in their growing brains. The classroom or family child care home needs to be a space where children of all ages can explore safely.
Even infants need time and space to roll or crawl. Instead of confining infants to cribs, high chairs, or playpens all day, set up a safe play space where they can play freely. Remember that children are curious and interested in the things they see.
In your facility, many environmental changes can and do occur almost daily—new children enter, others leave, you purchase new furniture and equipment, bring in pets, seasons change. Every change in your facility’s environment should initiate an evaluation to see if it is safe and effective. This process is called “monitoring.”
The indoor child care environment can include many physical hazards that pose risks through choking, poisoning, burns, falls and other ways. Many of you control environmental hazards in your facility by instinct, but monitoring your facility for safety should be a deliberate and serious task. One way to accomplish this is by regularly using your safety checklists to insure that your environment is still childproof.
Remember! Childproofing a room does not make that room 100 percent safe. Childproofing does not replace supervision; it enhances it.
Your program must follow certain safety standards and practices in order to be licensed. Local building, sanitary and fire safety codes must also be observed. You can create a safe environment by carefully following these additional guidelines:
- Know the licensing regulations for your early childhood program.
- Know all applicable safety practices for the child care environment (such as not shaking a baby, always checking water temperature, putting babies on their back to sleep, keeping hot food and liquids out of reach).
- Be alert to hazards both indoors and outdoors, and eliminate or avoid them.
- Use safety devices where applicable (e.g., smoke alarms, safety guards around hot surfaces, etc.).
- Use the checklist to conduct safety checks of outdoor areas, indoor areas, first aid kits, etc. on a regularly scheduled basis. Some features need to be checked daily, others weekly or monthly. Programs need to build safety checks into their daily, weekly and monthly schedules.
- Encourage all staff to participate in conducting the checks and in the planning of ways to deal with hazards.
- Be aware of conditions that contribute to injuries. Whenever a hazard is found, fix it if you can. If you cannot fix it, make a note of it and follow up with plans to get it fixed.