MEDIA ADVISORY: Colorado State University and Sunshine House to showcase childcare center emergency preparedness

On the heels of National Preparedness Month, the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis (CDRA) at Colorado State University will release the results of a statewide survey of childcare center disaster preparedness tomorrow.

Researchers from CDRA will share the study findings with childcare providers and emergency managers from across Colorado on Thursday, following a fire drill for children and staff at Sunshine House Early Learning Academy.

In 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Denver-based Region VIII office provided CDRA with a $30,000 grant to launch the two-year study. CDRA and Sunshine House are partnering to call attention to the issue in support of FEMA’s America’s PrepareAthon! campaign.

WHAT: Childcare center preparedness study results and fire drill

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 2
10:30 a.m. – media set-up
10:40 a.m. – brief remarks and interview opportunities
11 a.m. – fire drill

WHERE: Sunshine House Early Learning Academy
2060 Perennial Lane, Fort Collins

VISUALS: Children, ages six weeks to 5 years, participate in a fire evacuation drill with assistance from childcare center staff

INTERVIEWS: Lori Peek, co-director, CDRA
Samantha Coontz, director, Sunshine House Early Learning Academy
Mike Gavin, emergency manager, City of Fort Collins
Daniel Nyquist, community preparedness officer, FEMA Region VIII

DIRECTIONS: Please note — Sunshine House recently moved to a new facility that is not available on GPS yet. From I-25, take the Prospect Road exit and continue west into Fort Collins. Turn left on Center Avenue and look for Sunshine House on the right side of the street at Botanical Lane; turn right and continue on to Perennial Lane.

Lori Peek, co-director of CDRA and an associate professor of sociology at CSU, served as the study lead. She noted that more than 700 childcare providers responded to the online survey.

“More than 40 percent of the providers who participated indicated that their center has been directly affected by disaster,” said Peek. “Approximately 93 percent of the surveyed providers have disaster preparedness plans, but only one-third of those plans address all different types of hazards. The survey results highlight good news about the state of preparedness among Colorado childcare providers, but also underscore areas for improvement. There is more work to be done to ensure that those who care for our youngest children are ready for disaster.”

“Emergency preparedness is a top priority at our facility, and practicing for fires and other disasters provides peace of mind to the families we serve,” said Samantha Coontz, director of the Fort Collins Sunshine House Early Learning Academy. “Preparing for emergencies helps our children and staff to understand what they need to do in a crisis. We were thrilled to participate in the CDRA study, collaborate effectively with community resources and be a part of raising resilient, prepared children.”

“The Fort Collins area has experienced the impacts of natural disasters in recent years and we know first-hand that being prepared is our best defense against emergencies,” said Mike Gavin, emergency manager for the City of Fort Collins. “CSU and Sunshine House are setting a great example for simple preparedness activities that the whole community can replicate. Having an all-hazards plan is important, but training everyone on the plan is critical.”