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High_Five_Safety_Activity_Checkpoints

Safety

The emotional and physical safety and well-being of Girl Scouts is our top priority. Safety Activity Checkpoints outlines the Safety Standards and Guidelines used in Girl Scouting, which apply to all Girl Scout activities.

For current COVID-19 guidelines, please check the most recent version on our Council Response to COVID-19 page.

All volunteers should review the Safety Activity Checkpoints manual when planning activities with girls in order to manage safety and risk in Girl Scout–sanctioned activities.

Be sure you have a Health History and Medical Release Form on every girl in your troop.

In Safety Activity Checkpoints, you’ll find:

  • Girl Scout Activity Safety Standards and Guidelines with requirements for adult supervision, permission slips, preparation, field trips and overnight trips, and other vital information

  • Activities that are not permitted by Girl Scouts of the USA and actions that girls and volunteers should not take

  • Policies surrounding chartered aircraft trips and aviation

  • First-aid and overall health information you’ll need from the girls

  • Standards for well-being and inclusivity, including working with Girl Scouts with disabilities and ensuring emotional safety

  • A breakdown of specific activities—such as camping, internet use, and water sports—and their individual safety checkpoints

Following the Safety Standards and Guidelines is an Activity-at-a-Glance chart which details two critical points to keep in mind:

  • Age-appropriate activities and participation by grade level

  • Whether prior approval from your council is required before girls participate in a specific activity

Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need
From camping weekends to cookie booths, adult volunteers must always be present to ensure their Girl Scouts have fun and stay safe, no matter their grade level.

Not sure just how many adults you’ll need for your activity? The following chart breaks down the minimum number of volunteers needed to supervise a specific number of Girl Scouts; councils may also establish maximums due to size or cost restrictions, so be sure to check with them as you plan your activity.

 

© Copyright 2009–2021 Girl Scouts of the United States of America.  All rights reserved. All information and material contained in Girl Scouts’ Volunteer Essentials guide (“Material”) is provided by Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) and is intended to be educational material solely to be used by Girl Scout volunteers and council staff. Reproduction, distribution, compiling, or creating derivative works of any portion of the Material or any use other than noncommercial uses as permitted by copyright law is prohibited, unless explicit, prior authorization by GSUSA in writing was granted. GSUSA reserves its exclusive right in its sole discretion to alter, limit, or discontinue the Material at any time without notice.

 

What to do if.....

There is an Accident

Although you hope the worst never happens, you must observe council procedures for handling accidents and fatalities. At the scene of an accident, first provide all possible care for the injured person. Follow established council procedures for obtaining medical assistance and immediately reporting the emergency. To do this, you must always have on hand the names and telephone numbers of council staff, parents/guardians and emergency services such as the police, fire department or hospital. Check with your council for emergency contact information.

GSHS Emergency Procedures

Adhere to all Safety Activity Checkpoints.

Please keep a copy of these guidelines and report form with you in your First-Aid Kit at all Girl Scout Activities.

In the event of a serious accident, emergency or fatality please follow the following council emergency procedures:

  • Provide First Aid to the injured person. Dial 9-1-1 if emergency assistance is needed.
  • Keep a responsible person at the scene at all times.
  • Keep the girls calm and occupied.
  • Notify the Council Crisis Team: during business hours at 800-624-4185 or call your Member Support Specialist after hours or on weekends.
  • Call your troop's emergency contact person to let the parents know there is a delay. Have it planned in advance what the person will say.
  • In the event of a fatality, see that no disturbance of the victim or surroundings is permitted until police arrive.
  • Do not surrender permission slips or medical records. Keep your copies.
  • Refer all media (press, radio, TV) inquiries to the Council. Do not make any statements or release names to anyone.
  • File an Accident/Incident Report and refer all insurance questions to Council personnel.

Please remember: Only Council-designated spokespersons (Council Crisis Team) are authorized to speak on behalf of the Council. It is very important that communications are controlled to minimize risk. A good response is:

"I really don't have all of the information you are looking for. You need to speak with someone from our communications team."

Feel free to give them the office phone number: 800-624-4185

In addition to reporting emergencies and serious injuries  occurring during a Girl Scout activity or on Girl Scout property to the Council Crisis Team, you are asked to report any situation or potential situation that poses a threat to the Girl Scout name and/or impairs the Council's ability to operate effectively. The Council Crisis Team appreciates it when it has time to Be Prepared.

An Accident/Incident Report should be completed for any accident that does, or could potentially, require medical attention. It is used to supplement insurance information and to notify the council of an incident while awaiting insurance forms and doctor's statements.

The Accident/Incident Report should also be used for any incidents involving inappropriate behavior that occurs on the site or during a program event.

This report should be completed and submitted to the council office within 24 hours following the incident. You may call the council and file an initial report by phone at: 800- 624-4185; a copy will then be mailed for your signature.

A leader, activity planner or parent may fill in sections of the form that relate to their actions. On-site First Aider, Program Director, or event coordinator should complete separate forms.

Incident report forms can be subpoenaed for legal evidence, so information should relate only to the known facts. Be sure personal opinions are not included.

After receiving a report of an accident, council staff will immediately arrange for additional assistance at the scene, if needed, and will notify parents/guardians, as appropriate. If a Girl Scout needs emergency medical care as the result of an accident or injury, first contact emergency medical services, and then follow council procedures for accidents and incidents. Your adherence to these procedures is critical, especially with regard to notifying parents or guardians. If the media is involved, let council-designated staff discuss the incident with media representatives.

In the event of a fatality or other serious accident, the police must be notified, and a responsible volunteer must remain at the scene at all times. In the case of a fatality, do not disturb the victim or surroundings and follow police instructions. Do not share information about the accident with anyone but the police, your council and, if applicable, insurance representatives or legal counsel.

Someone Needs Emergency Care

As you know, emergencies can happen. Girls need to receive proper instruction in how to care for themselves and others in emergencies. They also need to learn the importance of reporting to volunteers any accidents, illnesses or unusual behaviors during Girl Scout activities. You can help girls by keeping in mind the following:

  • Know what to report. See the "What to Do If There is an Accident" section earlier in this chapter.
  • Establish and practice procedures for weather emergencies. Know the type of extreme weather to expect in your area (e.g. tornadoes, hurricanes and lightning). Please consult with your council for the most relevant information for you to share with girls.
  • Establish and practice procedures for such circumstances as fire evacuation, lost persons and building-security issues. Every girl and adult volunteer must know how to act in these situations. For example, you and the girls, with the help of a fire department representative, should design a fire evacuation plan for meeting places used by the group.
  • Assemble a well-stocked first-aid kit that is always accessible. First-aid administered in the first few minutes can make a significant difference in the severity of an injury. In an emergency, secure professional medical assistance as soon as possible, normally by calling 911, and then administer first aid, if appropriately trained.

First-Aid/CPR

Emergencies require prompt action and quick judgment. For many activities, Girl Scouts recommends that at least one adult volunteer be first-aid/CPR-certified. For that reason, if you have the opportunity to get trained in council-approved first-aid/CPR, do it! You can take advantage of first-aid/CPR training offered by chapters of the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, EMP America, American Heart Association or other sponsoring organizations approved by your council. As a partner of GSUSA, American Red Cross offers discounts on certification courses.

Caution: First-aid/CPR training that is available entirely online does not satisfy Girl Scouts' requirements. Such courses do not offer enough opportunities to practice and receive feedback on your technique. If you're taking a course not offered by one of the organizations listed in the previous paragraph, or any course that has online components, get approval from your support team or council prior to enrolling in the course.

First-Aider

A first-aider is an adult volunteer who has taken Girl Scout-approved first-aid and CPR training that includes specific instructions for child CPR. If, through the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, EMP America, or American Heart Association, you have a chance to be fully trained in first-aid and CPR, doing so may make your activity planning go a little more smoothly.

The Safety Activity Checkpoints always tell you when a first-aider needs to be present. Since activities can take place in a variety of locations, the presence of a first-aider and the qualifications they need to have are based on the remoteness of the activity. For example, if you take a two-mile hike in an area that has cell phone reception and service along the entire route and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) is no more than 30 minutes away at all times the first-aider will not need to have knowledge of wilderness first aid. If, on the other hand, you take the same two-mile hike in a more remote area with no cell phone service and where EMS is more than 30 minutes away, the first-aider must have knowledge of wilderness first aid (see the chart below).

 

Less than 30 minutes

First Aid

More than 30 minutes

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder

*Although a WFR is not required, it is strongly recommended when traveling with groups in areas that are greater than 30 minutes from EMS.

It is important to understand the differences between a first-aid course, and a wilderness­ rated course. Although standard first-aid training provides basic incident response, wilderness-rated courses include training on remote-assessment skills, as well as emergency first-aid response, including evacuation techniques, to use when EMS is not readily available.

Note: The presence of a first-aider is required at resident camp. For large events-200 people or more-there should be one first-aider for every 200 participants. The following healthcare providers may also serve as first-aiders: physician; physician's assistant; nurse practitioner; registered nurse; licensed practical nurse; paramedic; military medic; and emergency medical technician.

First-Aid Kit

Make sure a general first-aid kit is available at your group meeting place and accompanies girls on any activity (including transportation to and from the activity). Please be aware that you may need to provide this kit if one is not available at your meeting place. You can purchase a Girl Scout first-aid kit, you can buy a commercial kit, or you and the girls can assemble a kit yourselves. The Red Cross offers a list of potential items in its Anatomy of a First Aid Kit (note that the Red Cross's suggested list includes aspirin, which you will not be at liberty to give to girls without direct parent/guardian permission). You can also customize a kit to cover your specific needs, including flares, treatments for frostbite or snake bites and the like.

In addition to standard materials, all kits should contain your council and emergency telephone numbers (which you can get from your council contact). Girl Scout activity insurance forms, parent consent forms and health histories may also be included.

You Witness or Experience Abuse

Sexual advances, improper touching, and sexual activity of any kind with girl members are forbidden. Physical, verbal and emotional abuse of girls is also forbidden. All states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statues identifying persons who are required to report suspected child abuse to an appropriate agency. Therefore, if you witness or suspect child abuse or neglect, whether inside or outside of Girl Scouting, follow your council's guidelines for reporting your concerns to the proper agency within your state.

For additional information please check the following resources: