It is an unfortunate sign of the world in which we live that there are persons who desire to cause damages similar to the damages caused by natural disasters. Sometimes, the reasons are personal, and directed against the family of one of the children in your program, or it could be simply faceless terrorism. Generally a terrorist will inflict damage in order to disrupt the way we do things or to gain attention for his/her cause. The results of these actions are hard to predict, but they are seldom all that different from the results of severe weather or of a hazardous materials release. An important thing to remember is that any terrorist action is illegal, and local police will need to be notified whenever any criminal, suspicious, or potentially terrorist activities occur.

Most acts of violence happen without warning.

Consider the ways that your facility is viewed in the community and the reaction in the media should a terrorist act occur.

Active coordination with local law enforcement will give you a better idea of the vulnerability of your facility to terrorist attack and law enforcement’s role in the response to suspicious activity.

  Be aware of what’s going on in the world. The federal Department of Homeland Security tries to communicate the level of threat by using a color-coded system (called the Homeland Security Alert System (HSAS)). Governmental; public and private facilities should watch for changes in the color codes and adjust their activities accordingly. The American Red Cross has defined a series of checklists for schools. These have been adapted for day care centers.

Be vigilant; constantly on the lookout for unusual persons or things such as:
Unusual unsolicited deliveries.
Suspicious items left around the outside of the facility.
Individuals “hanging around” for no apparent reason.

Enforce facility security. Restrict visitors to only public areas. Ensure that all visitors are identified and appropriately cleared before they enter the facility.
Response to the consequences of a terrorist or violent act will depend on the hazards presented.
Armed Intruder – Call for help. Try to get the children to safety, either locked in a safe room inside, or quickly taken outside the building. DO NOT try to confront the intruder and make him/her even more violent. Try to remain calm and to calm down the intruder
Hostage situation – Call for help. Don’t endanger yourself or any of the children by trying some sort of rescue. Pay attention to the captor(s), try to get details of what they want and accommodate them. Provide as much information as possible to the police when they arrive.
Bomb – Any unknown package could be a bomb. If you have any reason to believe that it is, EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY and let the experts deal with it. There can be no possible value in unnecessarily endangering yourself or members of your staff.

Bear in mind that the criminals/terrorists may have multiple attacks planned. They might use an explosion to get you to evacuate, and be waiting to take children hostage once you get them outside. This is the reason that we do not give the details of our emergency plans to anyone who doesn’t need to know. It’s also a good idea to check and see if the “coast is clear” before you try to move the children.

Adapted from the Day Care Facilities Emergency Planning Guide prepared by the Bureau of Plans, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and information from the FEMA website.