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High_Five_Safety_Activity_Checkpoints

Safety

Safety in Girl Scouting

In Girl Scouting, the emotional and physical safety and well-being of girls is our top priority. Safety Activity Checkpoints outlines the safety standards and guidelines used in Girl Scouting, which apply to all Girl Scout activities.

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.

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, transporting girls, and other vital information 
  • Activities that are not permitted by GSUSA, 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 girls 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 girls have fun and stay safe, no matter their grade level. 

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

Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need

From camping weekends to cookie booths, adult volunteers must always be present to ensure their girls have fun and stay safe, no matter their grade level. 

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

volunteer-to-girl-ratio-chart

Here are some examples: If you’re meeting with 17 Daisies, you’ll need three volunteers, at least two of whom are unrelated (in other words, not your sister, spouse, parent, or child), and at least one of whom is female. As indicated on the chart, two troop leaders are required for 12 Daisies and one more volunteer is necessary for up to six more girls. You have 17, so you need three volunteers, two of whom are approved in the role of troop leader.  If you have 17 Cadettes attending a group meeting, you need only two unrelated troop leaders, at least one of whom is female (because, on the chart, two troop leaders can manage up to 25 Cadettes). 

In addition to the volunteer-to-girl ratios, please remember that adult volunteers must be at least 18 years old or at the age of majority defined by the state, if it is older than 18.

Responsibilities of Parents and Guardians

You want to engage each parent or guardian to help you work toward ensuring the health, safety and well-being of girls. Clearly communicate to parents and guardians that they are expected to:

  • Provide permission for their daughters to participate in Girl Scouting as well as provide additional consent for activities that take place outside the scheduled meeting place.  This can include such activities as: product program, including Digital Cookie; overnight travel; the use of special equipment; or sensitive issues.
  • Make provisions for their daughters to get to and from meeting places or other designated sites in a safe and timely manner, and inform you if someone other than a parent or guardian will drop off or pick up their child.
  • Provide their daughters with appropriate clothing and equipment for activities, or contact you before the activity to find sources for the necessary clothing and equipment.
  • Follow Girl Scout safety guidelines and encourage their children to do the same.
  • Assist you in planning and carrying out program activities as safely as possible.
  • Participate in parent/guardian meetings.
  • Understand what appropriate behavior is for their daughters, as determined by the council and you.
  • Assist volunteers if their daughters have special needs or abilities and their help is solicited.

Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania Staff and volunteers are not responsible for interpreting or enforcing parental custodial agreements. Further, GSWPA staff and volunteers are prohibited from taking on the role of a mediator in these situations. 

Volunteers are expected to carry out the duties of the volunteer role while abiding by the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law. It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian of the girl to make necessary arrangements relating to their custody, to include transportation, help at troop meetings, attendance at events and programs with their troop leader within the parameters of girl safety guidelines as outlined in Volunteer Essentials. The information completed on the girl health history form will identify who can pick up a child from the meetings and activities, as well as identify who has custodial care. This form should be filled out and provided to the troop leader annually or as necessary to accommodate changes. It is located at gswpa.org in the forms tab.

Should there be conflict about a household account in a custody issue or divorce/separation process, our Volunteer Relations Manager will work with parents to determine the best set-up of the account(s).    

Responsibilities of Girls

Girls who learn about and practice safe and healthy behaviors are likely to establish lifelong habits of safety consciousness. For that reason, each Girl Scout is expected to:

  • Assist you and other volunteers in safety planning.
  • Listen to and follow your instructions and suggestions.
  • Learn and practice safety skills.
  • Learn to “think safety” at all times and to be prepared.
  • Identify and evaluate an unsafe situation.
  • Know how, when and where to get help when needed.
Health Histories (Including Examinations & Immunizations)

Girl Scout health histories and records may be handled differently by each council. For example, the staff at your council office may take care of obtaining and storing girl health histories, including a physician’s examination and list of required immunizations. In other councils, you may be asked to maintain these records for your group. Either way, keep in mind that information contained in a girl’s health history is confidential and protected by law. This information may only be shared with people who have a need to know this information such as the girl herself, her parent/guardian and a healthcare provider.

Girl Health History Form
Adult Health History Form
Girl and Adult Health History Procedure

For various reasons, some parents/guardians may object to immunizations or medical examinations. Councils must attempt to make provisions for these girls to attend Girl Scout functions in a way that accommodates these concerns.

Refer to the Forms page to find the Immunization Waiver Form.

It is important for you to be aware of any medications a girl may take or allergies she may have. Keep in mind the following:

  • Medication, including over-the-counter products, must never be dispensed without prior written permission from a girl’s custodial parent or guardian (your council can provide the necessary form).
  • Girl Scout volunteers are not required or encouraged to administer medication to girls. However, volunteers may agree to accept the responsibility of administering certain medications. If adult volunteer in charge is uncomfortable administering medication, they must discuss an alternate plan with parent/guardian.
  • Some girls may need to carry and administer their own medications, such as bronchial inhalers, EpiPens or diabetes medication.  You must have documentation from the girl’s parent or guardian that it is acceptable for the girl to self-administer these medications.
  • All medication must be in its original packaging with the following information:
    • Girl’s name
    • Doctor’s name & phone number
    • Dosage instructions
      • This includes all over the counter medications, even vitamins. Medications can only be dispensed according to the labeled directions unless it is accompanied by a note from the physician.
  • Common food allergies include dairy products, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts and seafood. This means that before serving any food (such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies or chips), ask whether anyone is allergic to peanuts, dairy products or wheat. Do this even if you are aware of which girls have specific allergies! Even Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies should be aware of their allergies, but double-checking with them and their parents/guardians is always a good idea.
Girl Scout Activity Insurance

Every registered Girl Scout and registered volunteer member in the Girl Scout movement is automatically covered under the basic Mutual of Omaha Activity Insurance plan upon registration. The premium for the Basic Plan, which provides supplemental medical insurance is paid for in full by Girl Scouts of the USA.

This insurance provides up to a specified maximum for medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident while a member is participating in an approved, supervised Girl Scout activity. This is one reason why all volunteers and girls should be registered members. It is important to remember that non-registered parents, tagalongs (brothers, sisters and friends) and other persons are not covered by the basic plan.

This insurance coverage is not intended to diminish the need for, or replace existing, family health insurance. When $130 in benefits has been paid under this plan for covered expenses, any subsequent benefits from the basic plan will be payable (up to the specified maximum) only for expenses incurred that aren’t covered under another insurance policy. If there is no family insurance or healthcare program, a specified maximum of medical benefits is available under the basic plan.

An optional Activity Insurance plan is available for Girl Scouts taking extended trips (trips that are more than two overnight stays) and for non-members who participate in Girl Scout activities. These optional plans are secondary insurance that a council may offer to cover participants taking part in any council-approved, supervised Girl Scout activity. Contact your council to find out how to apply. In some cases, your council may make this insurance mandatory, particularly for overseas travel.

Review the Girl Scouts insurance plan description.

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. 

In case of serious incident, illness, accident or injury:

  1. Determine extent of injury and give appropriate first aid, as qualified.
  2. Call for emergency help.
  3. Alert GSWPA at:
    800-248-3355 Mon.-Thur. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-noon
    877-359-7878 (after business hours)
  4. Speak only to the police and proper authorities. Do not say “No Comment” or release names or statements to anyone.
  5. Refer all inquiries to the council spokesperson at:
    GSWPA Corporate Office: 800-248-3355
  6. Do not sign any statements or reports, except for police.
  7. Upon returning home, complete an Accident/Incident Report.

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 child 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 these representatives.

In the event of a fatality or other serious accident, notify the police. A responsible adult must remain at the scene at all times. In the case of a fatality, do not disturb the victim or surroundings. 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.

Accident/Incident Report Form
Insurance Claim Procedure

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 above.
  • 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.