When looking for a potential site for your commercial daycare, you'll probably notice that most buildings have pre-conducted fire assessments and risk ratings available for you to view. While these are fine for businesses dealing with adults, there are additional considerations you'll need to take into account when opening a childcare facility given the vulnerability of those you'll be looking after. Here are 3 additional things to look out for when choosing a fire-safe premises for your daycare.
A Suitable Evacuation Point
Planning a fire drill for adults usually involves instructing them to get out of the building unaided. When dealing with children at a daycare, you need to remember that it may not be possible for children to get outside unaided. Having an unlocked exit can be a safety hazard, allowing kids to get out or intruders to get in, so this means the children won't be able to get out of the building without staff if fire breaks out. As a result, you'll need a suitable evacuation point near your exit. Look for buildings that have large, central evacuation points far away from the kitchen (and, if you're looking to rent space in a school, away from science labs and home economics classrooms). Evacuation points need to be as close as possible to the designated emergency exit. They should be big enough for every child to congregate at, with enough storage space for emergency kits and fire evacuation cribs if you look after babies, too. The point needs to be accessible from every room, and if your daycare is spread over multiple floors, you'll need an evacuation point like this on each floor. Ideally, this point should also feature large windows; in the event that all staff are incapacitated by fire, children will need to be visible to firefighters to ensure they're saved.
Children are less mobile than adults, so the routes between each room and the evacuation point and exit need to be as streamlined as possible with minimal obstructions. Children will find it more difficult to remember and follow the evacuation plan if their route involves long, winding corridors, crowded hallways, stairs, or elevators. Remember that young children may panic and lose some control of themselves during a fire even if you run drills, so their routes need to be free of anything that could trip them up if they're frantic (such as steps or ledges).
Wide, Tall Doorways
Wide, tall doorways are particularly important if you'll be looking after younger children. Babies and toddlers may need to be carried, and wheeled evacuation cribs may need to be pushed through entryways. The larger the doorway is to each room, the easier it will be to facilitate the movement of small children to the exit. Even if you only look after older children, large doorways are ideal, as some kids may panic and neglect to follow 'single file walking' rules.
Once you've got your location sorted, it's time to contact a fire protection services company to make sure you have a comprehensive fire system in place. Even if the building you're purchasing comes with some components pre-installed, like alarms and sprinklers, you may want to replace them with newer, more reliable models. You'll also want to consider adding components that will help prevent the spread of fire, such as sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, and fire doors. The more contained a fire is, the easier it will be to ensure every child and staff member gets out safe.