Rain, Rain, Go Away: Nursery safety whatever the weather
With June 2016 having been one of the wettest on record, this past month has not been without its challenges. Across the UK schools were closed in the middle of exams, cars were abandoned in the street as passengers scrambled to escape flash-flooded roads, and homes across the country were evacuated. Needless to say, Glastonbury was a mud-bath.
You work with children, so being prepared for just about anything is already part of your job. Nobody could predict that one third of June’s forecast rainfall would fall in one hour in the Midlands this month, but as a nursery manager you need a contingency plan for events like this. Here are some simple tips for safeguarding your premises and your people against the perils of this British weather – and keeping disruption to a minimum.
1. Mats and Door Canopies
A class has been playing outside and the heavens open. Key workers bring the children back inside in a controlled manner, but the floors are now unavoidably wet and the non-carpeted areas of your nursery are a serious slipping hazard. You may already put extra mats down in doorways during the slushy winter months, but consider a more permanent solution now that the summer months can be just as wet. Make sure that the large, moisture-absorbent mats you install have bevelled edges and are fixed permanently in place to avoid trips. Investing in a decent size door canopy for your main access door can also help keep some amount of rain and dirty water from coming into the building in the first place.
2. Action Plans
Update your severe weather emergency policy to include summer storms and downpours, or create a simple procedure for heavy rain where each staff member has a key responsibility. From putting up hazard signs to mopping and drying floors, changing sodden door mats and switching off monitors in thunder storms, a calm, all-hands-on-deck mentality is essential and will help retain a sense of control and order amongst the children too.
Update your policy on what parents must pack for their children every day in their day bag. Currently a sunhat and a tube of sun cream might be on the list, but a lightweight anorak or waterproof splash suit and a pair of wellies are just as necessary right now.
4. Drop-Off and Collection Policy
Needless to say, more parents drive to nursery when the weather is foul. This can cause congestion in your car park and set-down areas, creating extra mud, additional stress and yet further hazards from the higher volume of traffic on the wet roads. Email parents asking them to arrive on foot to drop off or collect wherever possible, or request that they park away from the nursery and walk if they must travel by car.
Torrential rain, thunder and lightning can be understandably frightening for some children whereas for others it can cause peak excitement levels – both of which need to be managed for the safety and wellbeing of the group. The most effective damage limitation in adverse weather probably comes from managing human behaviour, so it’s worth having appropriate ‘drop-everything’ activities in place for when the weather turns. Seated and generally more sedate activities will limit slip hazards and reduce extra humidity in the air which can lead to fractiousness. Games that involve the weather will turn the day’s events into an opportunity for a new learning experience.
Here’s to a significantly drier July and August. But in case that rain comes back for an encore performance, we hope that these tips will help protect your nursery and your people from harm and disruption.