Objectives: To determine the preparedness of child care centers in Pennsylvania to respond to emergencies and disasters based on compliance with National Health and Safety Performance Standards for Out-of-Home Child Care Programs. Methods: A questionnaire focusing on the presence of a written evacuation plan, the presence of a written plan for urgent medical care, the immediate availability of equipment and supplies, and the training of staff in first aid/cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as delineated in Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards for Out-of-Home Child Care Programs, 2nd Edition, was mailed to 1000 randomly selected child care center administrators located in Pennsylvania. Results: Of the 1000 questionnaires sent, 496 questionnaires were available for analysis (54% usable response rate). Approximately 99% (95% confidence interval [CI], 99%-100%) of child care centers surveyed were compliant with recommendations to have a comprehensive written emergency plan (WEP) for urgent medical care and evacuation, and 85% (95% CI, 82%-88%) practice their WEP periodically throughout the year. More than 20% of centers did not have specific written procedures for floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, or bomb threats, and approximately half of the centers did not have specific written procedures for urgent medical emergencies such as severe bleeding, unresponsiveness, poisoning, shock/heart or circulation failure, seizures, head injuries, anaphylaxis or allergic reactions, or severe dehydration. A minority of centers reported having medications available to treat an acute asthma attack or anaphylaxis. Also, 77% (95% CI, 73%-80%) of child care centers require first aid training for each one of its staff members, and 33% (95% CI, 29%-37%) require CPR training. Conclusions: Although many of the child care centers we surveyed are in compliance with the recommendations for emergency and disaster preparedness, specific areas for improvement include increasing the frequency of practice of the WEP, establishing specific written procedures for external disasters and urgent medical emergencies, maintaining the immediate availability of potentially life-saving medications, and ensuring that all child care center staff are trained in first aid and CPR.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Emergency Medicine