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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.

Safety Activity Checkpoints

Safety Activity Checkpoints contain the national safety standards set for Girl Scout activities by GSUSA. GSOSW adds supplemental information to Safety Activity Checkpoints to reflect its own procedures. Always review both Safety Activity Checkpoints and GSOSW Council Volunteer Policies and Procedures when planning any event or activity with Girl Scouts. Please keep in mind that the most strict safety standard from either document is to be followed.

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 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/what prior approval from GSOSW is required before girls participate in a specific activity
Responsibilities of Parents and Caregivers

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 girls 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 sales, including Digital Cookie; day/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 girls with appropriate clothing and equipment for activities, or contact group/troop leadership before the activity to find sources for the necessary clothing and equipment.
  • Follow Girl Scout safety guidelines and encourage their girls 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 girls have special needs or abilities and their help is solicited.
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.
Emergency Procedures

Although we always hope the worst never happens, all volunteers must be prepared to 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. Use the GSOSW emergency blue card (obtainable at any council service center) to report any incidents to the 24-hour emergency service. Always call 911 first for immediate help.

Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington procedures to be followed in the event of a serious accident, emergency or fatality:

  1. First adult – give priority attention to providing care for the injured person.
  2. Second adult – call 911 to secure police, ambulance, fire, etc.
  3. Call Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington (GSOSW) 24-hour emergency number: 800-626-6543.
  4. Give YOUR name, troop number, exact location and phone number where you can be reached.
  5. Stay by the phone until you receive a return call from a Girl Scout representative. That individual will guide you and secure additional assistance as needed. If you cannot stay by the phone, leave all important information with the answering service.
  6. Work with emergency personnel. Refer all media inquiries (press, radio, TV) to GSOSW. Do not speak to the media.

Emergency 24-hour Answering Service 800-626-6543.

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 adult 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.

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 adults any accidents, illnesses or unusual behaviors during Girl Scout activities. You can help girls by keeping in mind the following:

  • Know what to report.
  • 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 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 Aiders

A first aider is an adult volunteer who has taken Girl Scout-approved adult and child first aid and CPR training. GSOSW accepts certifications from most certifying bodies as long as an in-person skills test is part of the certification process. Inclusion of child CPR must be indicated on the documentation from the course and submitted to GSOSW. 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.

A child and adult trained volunteer is not required for regular troop/group meetings, however all activities outlined in Safety Activity Checkpoints require a first aider with certification 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 at any point on your outing you are either without cell service or it would take 30 minutes or longer for an ambulance (emergency medical services, EMS) to reach your location, Wilderness First Aid certification is required.

Access to EMS Minnimum Level of First Aid
Less than 30 minutes Current certification in First Aid/CPR & AED for adults and children
More than 30 minutes Current certification in Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder (WFR)

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 overnight 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. Your current certification or license must be on file with GSOSW, and indicate you are available to administer first aid and CPR to both adults and children. Please forward a copy of your First Aid/CPR certification to learningservices@girlscoutsosw.org.

Any overnight activity also requires a first aid/CPR-trained adult in attendance. Please refer to the travel section of the GSOSW Council Volunteer Policies and Procedures for further information.

First Aid Kits

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 readily available at your meeting place. The Red Cross offers a list of potential items in its Anatomy of a First Aid Kit.

Please note that the Red Cross’s suggested list includes aspirin, which you may not be at liberty to give to girls without direct caregiver/parent/guardian permission.

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 following chart breaks down the required amount of adult volunteers needed to supervise a specific number of girls.

Additional adults wishing to be present at a meeting, trip, or activity should have a specific safety or programmatic reason for attending.

For multi-level troops, always use the ratio required for the youngest grade level.

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