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Damning creche reports in Donegal

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INSPECTORS who visited a number of crèches across Donegal found young children were exposed to risks of strangulation, scalding and other serious injuries.

The potential hazards – which also included a water supply that was “unfit for human consumption” – were discovered by the HSE team at creches and preschools across the county.

They were revealed in a series of newly published reports.

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An inspection of First Steps Childminding Service at Inch Island near Lifford last April found a shower hose in the messy play area extended to a low level in a loop, which “may be a strangulation hazard”.

The surface temperature of the radiator was excessive and there was a risk children might be injured if they came in contact with the surface.

The potential dangers were revealed in a report carried in today’s Irish Independent.

Other potential dangers included – An exit door which was not secured, leaving children vulnerable to going on to the roadway.

* An uncovered sand box in the outdoor play area which could be contaminated by animal waste.

* A cracked window at the playroom patio door risked the entire window pane shattering.

* An opening in an external wall in the playroom could have led to rodents and other pests getting in.

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A separate inspection of Fairytales Day Care in Milford, Letterkenny, last September found that a number of electric sockets in the toddler room were unprotected.

A restricted opening device was not fitted in the preschool room on the first floor and a written record of fire drills was not maintained.

The sanitary accommodation adjacent to the toddler room was not complete and just one wash-hand basin was provided when three were needed. A follow-up inspection last May found these issues had been corrected.

An inspection of Naionra An Choimin, in Cloghan, Lifford, in June 2012 showed there was no record of the maintenance of smoke alarms and no fire drill displayed.

The fire-escape door from the playroom could be easily opened, allowing children unsupervised access to the car park.

The water supply was “unfit for human consumption”. Inspectors said a portable water supply should be provided and any water from the well being used “must be boiled first”.

A separate inspection of Greencastle Community Childcare Centre in Greencastle last December found that the surface temperature of the radiator in the Home Corner was excessive and posed a risk of burning.

Inspectors who examined the Kiddlywinks Preschool at Langan Gorm, Laghey, last February found the surface temperature of the radiators was too hot.

The inspectors also told managers that they needed a written policy on behaviour management and challenging behaviour which made a clear statement that no corporal punishment and no practices that were disrespectful, degrading, exploitative, intimidating, emotionally or physically harmful or neglectful were carried out.

Management at each facility were given an action plan which they agreed to comply with.

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