Emergency Plan, Supplies, and Drills

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Centres must have a written emergency plan and supplies to ensure the care and safety of children and adults while at the service.  The plan and supplies that a home-based service has must also be suitable for the care and safety of the adults and children when away from the home as well.

Emergency plan and supplies 

The plan must include evacuation procedures for the service’s premises, which apply in a variety of emergency situations. 

Centres must have a plan which is consistent with the Fire Evacuation Scheme for the building. For home-based services this is not a requirement unless the home is in a building that has an approved Fire Evacuation scheme.

The written emergency plan must at least include:

  • An evacuation procedure for the premises.
  • A list of safety and emergency supplies and resources sufficient for the age and number of children and adults at the service and details of how these will be maintained and accessed in an emergency.
  • Details of the roles and responsibilities that will apply during an emergency situation (this is a required of centres only – it is not required for home-based services).
  • A communication plan for families and support services.
  • Evidence of review of the plan (including how evaluation of drills has informed the annual review of the plan) on an, at least, annual basis
  • Implementation of improved practices as required.

Centres are also required to include in the emergency plan details of the roles and responsibilities of persons (staff) that will apply during an emergency situation.

Home-based services must also include out-of-school care children in the emergency plan if out-of-school care is being provided in the home.

Emergency drills


Educators are familiar with relevant emergency drills.  Educators must carry out the emergency drills relevant to the service with all children present in the home on an at least three-monthly basis. Should the educator provide out-of-school care then some emergency drills must also be performed with enrolled children and out-of-school care children at the same time.  There is no requirement as to how often or how many emergency drill practises must be undertaken, but as a record of the drills must be kept and used to inform the annual plan then it would follow that the educator undertakes at least a couple of drills (or more) every twelve months. 


Every adult caring for children (including day relief staff) must be made familiar with emergency drills that are relevant to the service depending on location, etc. For example: 

  • fire evacuation
  • earthquake (turtle dop)
  • shelter-in-place (storm, hurricane) 
  • volcano (depending on location)
  • tsunami (depending on location)
  • flood (depending on location e.g., on low lying ground or beside river that has flooded before)

The centre must carry out each type of drill that is relevant to the service with children (as appropriate) on an, at least, three-monthly basis.

Lockdown is a drill that should be practiced by staff without children.

Designated assembly area

Every service must have an area outside of the building to take the children to, and keep them safe, until emergency services and help arrives. 

To keep children safe, requires that the designated assembly area is not one that could lead to children being crushed by falling debris from buildings, trapped if the fire grows, or lead to children being run over by any vehicles. 

Furniture and heavy items secured

The service must ensure that all heavy furniture, fixtures and equipment that could fall or topple in an earthquake are secured.

This includes such things as shelves, any bench oven or microwave in the children’s play area, fridge and stove, TVs, and glass fish tanks. 

Approved fire evacuation scheme

Centres must have a current Fire Evacuation Scheme for their building that is approved by Fire and Emergency New Zealand. 

Homebased homes are not required to have an approved fire evacuation scheme but may (it is an optional).  

Failing to meet minimum standards

The Ministry of Education needs to know:

  • If you are concerned children’s needs are not being met.
  • If you are concerned a service is not meeting a minimum legal requirement.

READ MORE: How to make a complaint and your options.

CAUTION: This page and the information here is provided as part of the My ECE Guide to Regulations and Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education Services (The Guide).  The Guide does not purport to be a full and accurate interpretation of all statutory provisions relating to early childhood education services. While best efforts have been used in preparing this guide, no representations or warranties of any kind are made and My ECE assumes no liabilities of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the content. Please note that the Government and Ministry of Education may change, update, or alter any of the requirements at any time.  Please help to keep the information on this page up to date by letting us know of changes that need to be made.
Thank you!  Kia pai te rā

Emergency Preparation, Plan, Supplies, and Drills. Published in the My ECE Guide to Regulations and Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education Services, prepared by Dr Sarah Alexander and Warwick Marshall.

Last reviewed: 20 November 2022


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