Blog Post by Shannon Guse
When recently sharing about youth trips and my expectations of the students who are travelling with me, a young adult stated that the job of a youth worker sounds a lot like risk management. You better believe it!
Parents trust us with their teenagers and one of our primary jobs is to keep the young people in our care safe. We can’t prevent every trip and fall, but we can do a few things to manage risks at the church and before we hit the road with young people in tow!
- Walk through youth wing/rooms to check for any safety hazards.
- Are bookshelves bolted to walls?
- Are TV’s securely strapped to carts or attached to walls?
- Does your fire escape have an alarm?
- Are exits clearly marked?
- Does the game you are planning have the potential for injuries? Is there a rule that you can put in place that helps reduce the potential for injury?
- Where do you store emergency information? Can you easily access permission forms if needed?
- Does your church offer CPR and First Aid certification for volunteers and staff?
- Do you have first aid kits in every classroom?
- What’s in your first aid kit? Most insurance companies have a suggested checklist for first aid kits that can be easily found online.
Before Youth Trips
- Collect permission forms with all allergies and medical information.
- Be sure to go through the medical forms and highlight anything that may help you in an emergency.
- Compile a quick sheet listing the students with any special needs.
- Talk to parents about whether or not their student has an Epipen or other medications, who should hold the medications while on the trip, and whether or not the student needs a reminder to take medications or pack their Epipen each day.
- Prepare a clipboard for each chaperone with emergency contact information.
- If you don’t have a committee that oversees the maintenance of your church bus/van or when you are renting a vehicle, do a pre-trip check including a walk around vehicle to look for open doors or windows, evidence of leaked fluids, broken lights, under-inflated tires, dirty mirrors, or any new body damage. You may also want to test lights, horn, and wipers, and verify that spare tire, warning triangles, first aid kit, and fire extinguisher are in/on vehicle.
- Set clear expectations/rules with youth. Be sure that parents understand the expectations and consequences of not following the rules.
Shannon Guse serves as the director of Christian Education for youth and young adult ministries at Faith Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Florida.