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Maintaining Nursery Care Safety

Is your nursery safe? Churches providing nursery care have responsibility for protecting the safety of children while their parents worship and participate in other activities.

Physical injuries that could befall children include minor cuts and bruises, broken bones, and concussions. Falls, electric shock, food poisoning, or the spread of communicable diseases could be the consequence of a poorly supervised nursery.

To help prevent such occurrences, perform building and room inspections at regular intervals. Focus on the physical conditions of ceilings, walls, floors, floor covering, lighting, and general housekeeping.

 

Kid’s eye view

Inspection of the church nursery, adjacent areas, and washrooms used by nursery students should be done from a “kid’s eye view.” Get down on your hands and knees and observe the room from the height and perspective of the children who use the nursery.

 

Potential hazards

Stairs: Any stairs used by nursery students should have anti-slip treads and child-high handrails. Stairs and other walkways should be free from “trip and fall” hazards. Install gates on stairwells and window that are accessible to young children.

Discourage climbing: Remove climbing toys that are not age-appropriate for nursery students. Do not leave furniture or toys stacked so a child would find them inviting to climb.

Safety standards: Check to make sure cribs and playpens used in the nursery meet current safety standards. Serious injury may occur if a child’s head becomes wedged between the slats or other opening. The Consumer Product Safety Commission provides guidelines.

Electrical issues: Check electrical wiring, switches, and outlets to make sure they are up to local electrical codes. Cover outlets with safety caps when not in use. Do not allow cords from electrical appliances to dangle, creating potential strangulation hazards. Never use extension cords as permanent wiring. Do not allow children to access extension cords even when they are used temporarily.

Doors: Close doors to prevent children from wandering off, while maintaining access for parents and other adults into the nursery. Consider using a split door or a safety glass viewing port in the door.

Hazardous materials: Cleaning supplies, insecticides, matches, power tools, and any other hazardous materials should be stored in child-resistant, locked enclosures away from the nursery area. Any supplies used in nursery activities, such as paints and crayons, must be non-toxic.

Sanitize equipment: Clean and sanitize nursery furnishings, equipment, and toys on a regular basis. Crib and playpen mattress covers should be made of washable vinyl. Be sure to dispose of soiled diapers appropriately. All trash cans in the nursery should be securely covered.

Snacks: Keep food and beverages at the proper temperature until they are consumed. Clean up thoroughly after children eat to avoid food poisoning from the consumption of spoiled leftovers or spillage and to prevent attracting insects or vermin.

Emergency planning; Every nursery worker should know the fire and emergency evacuation plan. Provide two remote fire exits with illuminated exit signs. Never lock exit doors with padlocks or deadbolts. Install emergency lighting to provide illumination if the power fails. Place fire extinguishers within 75 feet of the nursery (in an area that is accessible to adults but not young children).

A safety check of your church nursery facilities should be a high priority. It should become a routine activity for those responsible for the nursery operation and completed at least twice a year.

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