Wildfire Safety

With wildfires spreading across the West, many cities and states are being impacted both directly by the fires and by the resulting air pollution from the smoke. To ensure that all children, parents, and child care providers are prepared and ready, Child Care Aware® of America has provided the information below. Evacuations are in effect in some areas. Critical infrastructure is also threatened or damaged. Please use this page, with continually updated resources, to ensure that you are protecting yourself and those you care about from wildfires and smoke.

 

Disaster Support for Child Care Providers

Disasters like these wreak havoc on child care providers. The ongoing West Coast wildfires have also resulted in evacuations and structural damage across numerous counties. Following disasters like these, child care providers may be forced to close, rebuild, or in some cases never reopen, and this impact has implications that can be felt across all sectors of the community—businesses, schools, emergency management, parents, and families. Child care providers need immediate assistance post-disaster, and this assistance is not always available to them.

How to Prepare

  • Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC)
  • Child Care Aware® of America
  • Child Care Emergency Preparedness Toolkits and Guides
    • How to Plan for Emergencies and Disasters: A Step-by-Step Guide for California Child Care Providers
      This 27-page document includes information aimed at helping child care providers develop an emergency plan. The document walks through a ten step process, and includes links to forms, checklists, templates and worksheets. The following topics are covered: Emergency disaster plan creation, identifying local hazards, emergency roles and responsibilities, connecting with emergency services in your local area, emergency supplies, reunification, relocation, drills, operating after a disaster and recovering from a disaster. Available in English and Spanish
    • UCSF California Childcare Health Program Emergency Plan Library (individual forms, templates, worksheets, checklists, and tools): 
      In this 65-page document, you can find a variety of forms, templates, worksheets and checklists to assist child care providers with emergency preparedness planning. This document contains helpful items, such as an emergency supplies checklist,sample emergency disaster drills, and an emergency drill log for your program. Available in English and SpanishThe University of California – San Francisco (UCSF) California Childcare Health Program, with funding from the California Department of Education, has developed the following helpful resources related to child care disaster planning.  Additional information can be found at: http://cchp.ucsf.edu/content/disaster-preparedness.
  • Child Care Resource Center Emergency Preparedness Toolkits
    This resource is from the Child Care Resource Center, which serves the northern Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties in California. The CCRC website offers an Emergency Preparedness Toolkit in English, Spanish, and Chinese, Quick Guides for Child Care Settings, as well as informational videos focused on emergency preparedness.
  • Head Start Emergency Preparedness Manual, 2015 Edition
    This 93-page manual provides tools and resources to assist with the emergency preparedness, response and recovery. The manual also provides examples of how preparedness activities can impact Head Start programs. Available from the Head Start National Center on Health.

Air Quality

Every day the Air Quality Index (AQI) tells you how clean or polluted your outdoor air is, along with associated health effects that may be of concern. The AQI translates air quality data into numbers and colors that help people understand when to take action to protect their health.

How Smoke From Fires Can Affect Your Health

Safety Tips from FEMA

  • The state of California’s Office of Emergency Services website is a resource with links to fire information, air quality information, updates on evacuation centers and shelters, including shelters for animals and pets, volunteer opportunities and donations needs.
  • Residents are reminded to continue to monitor local radio or TV stations for updates emergency information, and follow the instructions of state and local officials.
  • If ordered to evacuate during a wildfire, do so immediately- make sure and inform someone where you are going and when you have arrived.
  • If you see a wildfire and haven’t received evacuation orders yet, call 9-1-1.  Don’t assume that someone else has already called.
  • If there is a wildfire in the area, be ready to evacuate on short notice.
  • As soon as safe, individuals affected by the fires can contact their home and auto insurance agent or company.  Survivors can document damage by taking photos and keeping receipts.
  • Additional volunteer and donation opportunities are available on the website of the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters, http://www.nvoad.org, and the website of California Volunteers.
  • The FEMA app (available in English and Spanish) provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, directions to open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service.  The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.
  • Visit Ready.gov or Listo.gov to learn more about these and other preparedness tips in English and Spanish.
  • Businesses of all sizes should prepare in advance of wildfires to prevent loss of life, property, or disruption to operations. Businesses can review and update their business continuity plans and ensure their workforce knows what to do before and during the storm. Resources are available on web sites such as Ready.gov for Businesses and SBA.gov.

Responding to a Wildfire

Recovering from Wildfires

Damage Assessment

As soon as it is safe to do so, it is important to inspect your home and business. Some inspections will be simple, others may need the assistance of a professional, such as a structural engineer.

Conducting this assessment early on is important, as the information obtained can be used to communicate the condition of your facility as well as the status of your program to your local child care resource and referral agency, licensing consultant, or supervisor.

Damage assessments are also useful if you are eligible to apply for disaster assistance, which you should do regardless of whether you have insurance. In some cases, additional funding may be available to supplement your out-of-pocket costs or provide for expenses not covered by insurance. Here is a sample damage assessment tool for child care.

Resources

Child Care Aware of America

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