Reducing Hazards: Safety is a Must

Stella Marie C. Carreon, RN

Tan lines are fading, long hours of sleep are ending and there is limited time for playing. Summer is almost over and it`s time to say hello to the new phase of the year wherein some kids feel a little nervous or a little scared on the first day of school. Some are excited to see their friends whom they haven`t seen in a long time. Luckily, the “new” worries only stick around for a little while.

As the new school year approaches, the risk of accidents is at its peak especially when considering the environment of the students. Parents, caregivers, and educators cannot monitor each student during every second of the day, so it is essential that they identify and remove potential hazards before untoward circumstances occur. But how can we identify potential hazards in a fully furnished classroom? What do we look out for in the different areas of a filled facility?

Entrances and Exits

In the Philippines, doors are usually kept open during class hours except if fully air conditioned. Therefore, doors should remain unlocked to provide easy access to and from the building. Hallways should be well-lighted and remain uncluttered in case of an emergency exit. Check and educate students where the emergency exits are. Regular inspections are also necessary to see if these are safe to use or if they will add further harm when an emergency occurs.

Windows

Most students love to look out of windows especially during their break time, but they could get cuts from broken glass panes. Window coverings can also present safety hazards. Be sure to remove or securely tie any cords which could cause strangulation for children who stay around windows, though loitering by high open windows should also be discouraged.

Floors It is very important to keep the floors and floor coverings dry, clean and free of debris or tripping hazards. Use carpet tape or rubber backings to prevent rugs from curling or slipping. Carefully check for pins, staples, or other items which can hide in the rugs or floor coverings. Check floor tiles and baseboards for loose materials, protruding nails, or splinters. For nursery and kindergarten classrooms, inspect corners and under furniture for paperclips, toy parts, and other small items. Little kids tend to put anything into their mouths which can lead to choking and sometimes poisoning.

Walls

Inspection of walls should include checking the electrical outlets, wall coverings, bulletin boards, and pictures or decorations. First, all electrical outlets should be securely covered when not in use. Outlets that will not be used can be covered with solid closed electrical plates, available at hardware stores. If an outlet is used regularly, you can install a hinged or screw-in outlet guard that also covers the electrical cord end. Check for electrical outlets that can cause short circuits which lead to fire.

Pictures and wall decorations should be lightweight and securely fastened to the walls. Posters and artwork should be laminated or framed in lightweight plastic frames, rather than heavier wood and glass frames. Be sure that posters and other flammable coverings are well away from heat sources or electrical outlets.

Bulletin boards should be securely fastened to walls with screws or other hardware installed into the wall studs. To decorate bulletin boards, you can cover them with colored paper and staple around the edges, then completely cover the line of staples with wide, clear packaging tape. This will prevent staples from being pulled out. Then, attach several wide strips of clear selfadhesive plastic or clear packaging tape to the board.

Ceilings

Many people don’t think twice about the ceiling. If your room has removable ceiling tiles, check if they are securely in place. Roof leaks can damage tiles and they can crumble and fall when you least expect it. Light fixtures should be properly wired, securely fastened to the ceiling, and inspected regularly.

Furniture

Check all furniture for loose or protruding screws, nails, hinges, latches, or broken hardware. Furniture should have rounded edges and corners; you can use a sander or router to modify older furniture. Sand surfaces that are rough or splintered, repair cracks, and be sure surfaces are covered with non-lead based paint or varnish. Check doors, legs, joints, and other parts for stability. Shelves, chests with drawers, and storage cabinets should be securely bolted to walls so they will not fall, even if a child tries to climb it. Self-standing furniture, such as bookshelves used as room dividers, should be short and have wide bases to help prevent toppling. Drawers should have “stoppers” so they cannot be pulled out too far and fall on a child.

Poison Prevention

There are many items that can lead to poisoning. Make sure all art supplies say “non-toxic.” Chemical and cleaning agents should be stored out of reach and in a locked cabinet, preferably in a room away from the children and away from food supplies. Medications also must be out of reach and in a locked area.

Bathrooms

As much as possible, bathroom floors should be dry and free from cleaning materials that make the surfaces very slippery so as to avoid injury.

Aside from inspecting and removing potential hazards that can cause accidents, parents, caregivers, educators, and students can learn how to give First Aid, Basic Life Support, CPR and many more with the help of the Philippine Red Cross Boracay-Malay Chapter. Having knowledge and skills in first aid is one of the keys in maintaining safety. We can use these abilities anywhere at any time, when an emergency occurs.

For more details you can call 288- 2068 or visit our office at Ambulong, ManocManoc, Boracay, Malay, Aklan. Be trained and save lives. Learning is a never ending process. And learning how to save a life is a great process to be involved in.

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