Factors Related to Earthquake preparedness among Child Care Professionals: Theory and Policy Implications

November 1996 (VOL. 14, NO. 3)

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With increasing numbers of children enrolled in child care, the safety of the child care environment and the preparedness of personnel to prevent injuries and fatalities in the event of natural disasters becomes an important public policy issue. In this study, earthquake preparedness and its correlates were examined in 25 child care centers located in a southern California community adjacent to the San Andreaas Fault. Extensive survey, interview, and on-site observational data were collected. Findings indicated a wide range of preparedness in child care centers. Half of the child care centers lacked basic essentials required to cope in the aftermath of a major quake. Several hazards were also common: unsecured bookcases, open shelves, rolling furniture, large and unprotected windows, and heavy objects stored on high shelves. In addition, many directors had misconceptions about the role of local agencies (e.g., fire department, police, Red Cross) following an earthquake. Findings are considered in terms of risk assessment theory and implications; public policy and legislative courses of action are discussed.