Lessons from the Mexican Daycare Fire

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to get things done. Last Friday afternoon, 142 babies, toddlers, and children were watched by six employees of a government-run daycare center, located in a working class neighborhood in Sonora. Investigations will determine how the fire started and why it spread so quickly – but 38 children died from smoke inhalation and asphyxiation that afternoon.

The scene, as described by the New York Times, was “…chilling, with charred baby clothes, blackened bassinets and toys littering the sidewalk. Holes had been punched through the wall of the center to evacuate the children, and a frantic caravan of ambulances and cars had shuttled the children, who ranged in age from 6 months to 5 years, to the hospital.” Talks of improved safety standards, such as ensuring walkways and entrances aren’t blocked and can be accessed during an emergency, higher staff ratios, and greater governmental oversight, are already taking shape in Mexico, tearful over these preventable deaths. And as for United States, witness to this tragedy, government entities – local, state and federal – should take a closer look at better protecting children in all daycare centers if only to avoid this tragedy in the future.

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