OnlineSupportForVolunteers

Safety Resources


Responsibility of the Volunteer

Every adult in Girl Scouting is responsible for the physical and emotional safety of girls, and we all demonstrate that by agreeing to follow these guidelines at all times. Instructions for staying safe while participating in specific activities are detailed in the Safety Activity Checkpoints (or access the INDEX to find what you need quickly!). Read the checkpoints, follow them, and share them with other volunteers, parents and girls before engaging in activities with girls.

Be Prepared
Girls plan the activity

Keeping their grade-level abilities in mind, encourage girls to take proactive leadership roles in organizing details of the activity.

Travel safely

When transporting girls to planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities that are outside the normal time and place, every driver must be an approved adult volunteer and have a good driving record, a valid license and a registered/insured vehicle. Insist that everyone is in a legal seat and wears her seat belt at all times, and adhere to state laws regarding booster seats and requirements for children in rear seats. See Transporting Girls.

Be prepared for emergencies

Work with girls and other adults to establish and practice procedures for emergencies related to weather, fire, lost girls/adults and site security. Always keep handy a well-stocked first-aid kit, girl health histories and contact information for girls’ families. GSEWNI expects a first aider to be available for all troop meetings and outings. See Preparing for Emergencies.

Get a weather report

On the morning of the activity, check weather.com or other reliable weather sources to determine if conditions are appropriate. If severe weather conditions prevent the activity, be prepared with a backup plan or alternate activity, or postpone the activity. Practice evacuation and emergency plans for severe weather with girls.

Ensure safe overnight outings

Prepare girls to be away from home by involving them in planning, so they know what to expect. men should not sleep in the same space as girls and women. During family or parent-daughter overnights, one family unit may sleep in the same sleeping quarters in program areas. When parents are staffing events, daughters should remain in quarters with other girls rather than in staff areas.

Promote online safety

Instruct girls never to put their full names or contact information online, engage in virtual conversation with strangers, or arrange in-person meetings with online contacts. On group websites, publish girls’ first names only and never divulge their contact information. Teach girls the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge and have them commit to it. See details in Online Safety.

Keep girls safe during money-earning activities

Girl Scout cookies and other council-sponsored product sales are an integral part of the program. During Girl Scout product sales, you are responsible for the safety of girls, money and products. In addition, a wide variety of organizations, causes and fundraisers may appeal to Girl Scouts to be their labor force. When representing Girl Scouts, girls cannot participate in money- earning activities that represent partisan politics or are not Girl Scout–approved product sales and efforts. For details, see Product Sales Safety and the Money Earning Activity Application.

Get Other Adults OnBoard
Arrange for proper adult supervision of girls

Your group must have at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers present at all times, plus additional adult volunteers as necessary (see Girl/adult ratios). Adult volunteers must be at least 18 years old (or the age of majority defined by your state, if it is older than 18), and must be screened by your council before volunteering. Confirm background check status for troop adults at My GS → MyTroop. One lead volunteer in every group must be female.

Ensure volunteers meet high standards

Read the local Volunteer Policies, Procedures and Standards. Share them with fellow volunteers and make sure all adhere.

Get Caregiver permission

When an activity takes place that is outside the normal time and place, advise each parent/guardian of the details of the activity and obtain permission for girls to participate.

Communicate with council and parents

Follow council procedures for activity approvalcertificates of insurance, and council guidelines about girls’ general health examinations. Make arrangements in advance for all transportation and confirm plans before departure.

Compile a list of key contacts

Create a list of girls’ parents/guardian contact information. Give an itinerary to a contact person at home; call the contact person upon departure and return. Keep telephone numbers for emergency services and police, and council contacts on hand or post in an easily accessible location.

Role-model the right behavior

The use of alcohol, illegal drugs, marijuana, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, weapons (including firearms) are not permitted on GSEWNI Property or around Girls.

Foster A Positive Troop Culture
Use the buddy system

Using the buddy system, girls are divided into teams of two. Each girl is responsible for staying with her buddy at all times, warning her buddy of danger, giving her buddy immediate assistance if safe to do so, and seeking help when the situation warrants it. Girls are encouraged to stay near the group or buddy with another team of two, so in the event someone is injured, one person cares for the patient while two others seek help.

Create an emotionally safe space

Adults are responsible for making Girl Scouting a place where girls are as safe emotionally as they are physically. Protect the emotional safety of girls by creating a team agreement and coaching girls to honor it. Agreements typically encourage behaviors like respecting a diversity of feelings and opinions; resolving conflicts constructively; and avoiding physical and verbal bullying, clique behavior and discrimination.

Ensure that no girl is treated differently

Girl Scouts welcomes all members, regardless of race, ethnicity, background, disability, family structure, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. When scheduling, planning and carrying out activities, carefully consider the needs of all girls involved, including school schedules, family needs, financial constraints, religious holidays and the accessibility of appropriate transportation and meeting places.

Report abuse

Sexual advances, improper touching and sexual activity of any kind with girl members, as well as physical, verbal and emotional abuse of girls is strictly forbidden. Follow your council’s guidelines for reporting concerns about abuse or neglect that may be occurring inside or outside of Girl Scouting.


Preparing for Activities

When preparing for any activity with girls, review each section below.

Use the handy Safety Activity Matrix to quickly check which activities are appropriate for your age group, and whether you’ll need advance approval. Click on the activity name to view the checkpoints.

Girl/Adult Ratios
Know How Many Volunteers You Need

Whatever the activity, from camping to cookies sales, adult supervision is required regardless of the grade level of the girls. The table below shows the minimum number of adults needed to supervise a specific number of girls. These adult-to-girl supervision ratios were devised to ensure the safety and health of all girls taking part in the activity.

For example, if one adult has to respond to an emergency, a second adult is always on hand for the rest of the girls. It may take you a minute to get used to the layout of this chart, but once you start to use it, you’ll find the chart extremely helpful.


ratio girls picture
EXAMPLE:
If you’re meeting with 17 Daisies, you’ll need three adults, at least two of whom are unrelated (in other words, you and someone who is not your sister, spouse, parent, or child), and at least one of whom is female. This is determined as follows: for up to 12 Daisies you need two adults, and one more adult for up to six additional girls. Since you have 17 girls, you need three adults (2+1). If, however, you have 17 Cadettes attending a group meeting you need only two unrelated adults, at least one of whom is female, since the chart shows that two adults can manage up to 25 Cadettes.

Adult volunteers must be at least 18 years old.

Adult supervision for all girls also extends to any online activity. For additional information, see Online Safety.

Transporting Girls

How parents decide to transport girls between their homes and Girl Scout meeting places is each parent’s individual decision and responsibility.
For planned Girl Scout field trips and other activities outside the normal meeting time and place in which a group will be transported in private vehicles keep in mind the following:

  • Every driver must be an approved volunteer at least 21 years old, and have a good driving record, a valid license and a registered/insured vehicle. At GSEWNI, only currently registered, background screened adult members are permitted to drive girls. To check background screening expiration (CBC) of troop adults, leaders may log onto MyGS and click the "MyTroops" tab.
  • Girls never drive other girls.
  • If a group is traveling in one vehicle, there must be at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers in the vehicle, one of whom is female. In addition, the girl-volunteer ratios in the “Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need” section must be followed.
  • If a group is traveling in more than one vehicle, the entire group must consist of at least two unrelated, approved adult volunteers, one of whom is female, and the girl-volunteer ratios in the “Knowing How Many Volunteers You Need” section must be followed. Care should be taken so that a single car is not separated from the group for an extended length of time.
  • Carry the health forms and event permission slips of the girls riding in your car for the duration of the ride FORMS.
Private transportation

Private transportation includes private passenger vehicles, privately owned recreational vehicles and campers, chartered buses, chartered boats and chartered flights. Each driver of motorized private transportation must be at least 21 years old and hold a valid operator’s license appropriate to the vehicle. In addition, state laws must be followed, even if they are more stringent than the guidelines here. 

Anyone who is driving a vehicle with 12 or more passengers must be a professional driver who possess a commercial driver's license (CDL).

Please keep in mind the following non-negotiable points regarding private transportation:

  1. Even though written agreements are always required when renting or chartering, you are not authorized to sign an agreement or contract, even if there is no cost associated with the rental. Such agreements must instead be signed by the person designated by your council. Contact your Troop Support Rep. to begin the review and approval process.
  2. Check with your council to make sure you are following accepted practices when using private transportation. This ensures that both you and your council are protected by liability insurance in the event of an accident.
  3. Obtain parent/guardian permission for any use of transportation outside of the meeting place.

Driver Checklist

When driving a car, RV or camper, take the following precautions and ask all other drivers to do the same:

  • Obtain background check clearance in advice of driving (allow 3 weeks).
  • Ensure all drivers are adults at least 21 years old
  • Girls should not be transporting other girls.
  • Never transport girls in flatbed or panel trucks, in the bed of a pickup, or in a camper- trailer.
  • Keep directions and a road map in the car, along with a first-aid kit and a flashlight.
  • Check your lights, signals, tires, windshield wipers, horns and fluid levels before each trip, and recheck them periodically on long trips.
  • Keep all necessary papers up to date including, but not limited to: your driver’s license; vehicle registration; any state or local inspections; and insurance coverage.
  • Wear your seatbelt at all times, and insist that all passengers do the same. Girls under 12 must ride in the back seats.
  • Familiarize youself with the Child Booster Seat Laws in your state and use booster seats whenever necessary.
  • Follow all the established rules of the road in your state, including the speed limit. Some additional guidelines include: keeping a two-car-length distance between you and the car ahead of you; not talking or texting on a cell phone or other personal electronic device while driving; not using earbuds or headphones while driving; and turning your lights on when your windshield wipers are on. 
  • Plan rest stops every few hours and avoid driving for extended periods at night. If traveling with others, prearrange stopping places along the way. When planning trips longer than 6 hours, arrange for relief drivers.
  • Do NOT drive when you are tired or taking medication that makes you drowsy.
  • Permission forms and health histories should be carried for each person in the car.

Activities Not Permitted

Prior to any activity, consult the Safety Activity Checkpoints Matrix. If Safety Activity Checkpoints do not exist for an activity you and the girls are interested in, check with your council before making any definite plans with the girls. A few activities are allowed only with written council pre-approval and only for girls 12 and over, while some are off-limits completely.

Caution: When activities involve unpredictable safety variables, they are not recommended as Girl Scout program activities. These include but are not limited to:

  • Bungee Jumping
  • Flying in small private planes, helicopters or blimps
  • Hang gliding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Hunting
  • Motor biking
  • Parachuting
  • Parasailing 
  • Riding all-terrain vehicles 
  • Riding motorized personal watercraft such as jet skis 
  • Shooting sports 
  • Skydiving 
  • Stunt skiing 
  • Outdoor trampolining 
  • Zorbing

When planning activities with girls, note the abilities of each girl and carefully consider the progression of skills from the easiest part to the most difficult. Make sure the complexity of the activity does not exceed girls’ individual skills.

Bear in mind that skill levels decline when people are tired, hungry or under stress. Also use activities as opportunities for building teamwork, which is one of the outcomes for the Connect key in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE).

Responsibility of Caregivers

Troop volunteers will want to engage each parent or guardian to help the group work toward ensuring the health, safety and well-being of girls. Troop or activity leaders must 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 sales, 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 troop leaders 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 troop leaders 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 troop leaders 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 troop leaders. 
  • Assist volunteers if their daughters have special needs or abilities and their help is solicited. 
  • Provide notification of background clearance to their daughters’ troop leader before they drive, chaperone, handle money, or work with girls.
Responsibility 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 the troop leader and other volunteers in safety planning.
  • Listen to and follow the leader’s 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.

Preparing for Emergencies

As we all 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. The following provide details on each of these important topics.

Insurance
First Aid

Emergencies require prompt action and quick judgement. For all activities that occur outside of your documented Troop meeting location, GSEWNI requires 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, American Safety and Health Institute or other sponsoring organizations approved by your council.

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 above, or any course that has online components, get approval from your support team or GSEWNI 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.

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).

 Paramater 

Minimum Level of First Aid Required

All GSEWNI functions and activities that occur outside of the regular meeting place, where girls are present, and EMS access is less than 30 minutes away.

First Aid/CPR - Level 1

All GSEWNI functions exceeding 200 participants, high ropes courses, activities using non-motorized travel 10 or more miles 
from a trailhead, and when access to EMS is more than 30 minutes away.
First Aid/CPR - Level 2 (Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder (WFR)*)

*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.

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 Kits

Be prepared! A first aid kit should be kept handy at every Girl Scout meeting or event. First aid kits come in many shapes and sizes. You can purchase one from the Red Cross Store, another online source, or a local drug store. Girl Scouts may make their own with adult guidance.

Whether you buy a first aid kit or put one together, make sure it has all the items you may need:

  • Include any personal items such as medications and emergency phone numbers
  • Restock the kit after each use
  • Check the flashlight batteries when you set your clocks for Daylight Savings
  • Check expiration dates and replace any used or out-of-date contents

Suggested contents for a 10-person troop:

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 50 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 10 antiseptic wipe packets
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • 1 mylar space blanket
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 2 instant cold compresses
  • 8 pair of non-latex gloves (size: large)
  • 1 small pair of scissors
  • 2 sheets of moleskin (3 inch squares)
  • 2 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 10 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 10 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • Whistle
  • 2 packets of honey (fast-food type, for hypoglycemia)
  • 1 roll of toilet paper
  • 4 maxi pads
  • Zip-close bags (2 quart, 2 gallon)
  • Safety pins
  • Small roll of duct tape
  • Small, sealed bottle of sterile water (to use as eyewash or any purpose)
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid instruction booklet
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Parent permission is required for the following:
    • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
    • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
    • 10 packets of acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen (in appropriate dose)
    • Small bottle liquid Benadryl
Developing a Safety Management Plan

As you know, emergencies can happen. Volunteers and girls need to know how to care for themselves and others in an emergency. They also need to know what to do after an incident. A Safety Management Plan (SMP), sometimes called an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), is a written plan that guides and communicates identification, prevention and response to emergencies.

As an event or outing leader, it’s your responsibility to develop this plan and instruct participants. When you attend an outing or event planned by someone else, be sure to learn about the plans they’ve made, and share them with your girls and volunteers as appropriate.

Use the  Safety Management Plan for Troop Activities as a template for this process. You can ignore irrelevant sections, and add other topics as necessary.

Be prepared to share your SMP with your activity consultant when requesting approval for complicated or high-risk activities (those requiring approval).

For guidance on SMPs for large events, see  Directing Girl Scout Events and Series.

Emergency Procedures

What to do if there's 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 a life-threatening emergency, call 911

  • If a person needs emergency medical care as the result of an accident or injury, first contact emergency medical services, and then follow GSEWNI procedures.
  • Administer first aid.
  • Call for appropriate help (police, fire department or medical). Always notify police about motor vehicle accidents, serious accidents or fatalities
  • During business hours Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., call the office at (509) 747-8091
  • After business hours call the office and press “911” when prompted and leave a message.
  • GSEWNI staff will immediately arrange for additional assistance at the scene, if needed, and will notify parents/guardians as appropriate.
  • Move non-injured persons away from the scene as appropriate. Keep other girls safe and occupied.
  • Assign a responsible adult to remain at the scene.
  • Permit no one to disturb victim or surroundings until appropriate authority assumes responsibility.
  • Do not share information about the accident with anyone but the police, your council, and authorities.
  • Refer any media inquires to the Director of Communications or CEO. See “Handling Media” below.
  • Submit an  ACCIDENT/INCIDENT REPORT FORM according to the instructions on the form to Girl Scouts San Diego within 24 hours.

Handling media

Reporters will often contact Girl Scout volunteers directly regarding controversial or catastrophic situations. It is very important that only officially designated spokespersons respond. When questioned by media representatives:

  • Indicate as pleasantly as possible that only designated staff are authorized to speak to the media. 
  • Never speak “off the record” or speculate.
  • Refer the reporter to the Director of Communications or CEO at GSEWNI office (509) 747-8091.
  • Report your conversation with the reporter to the director of communications as soon as possible.

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.

Minor accidents or illness

In the event of a minor accident or illness, the first-aider should provide first-aid attention. If the adult in charge and the first-aider decide that further medical attention is necessary, they should call the parents/guardians. Most parents prefer to take the child for medical treatment themselves. If you must take a child to a medical facility, be sure that the remaining girls have adequate supervision. Bring the child’s permission slip plus health history. Report all animal bites to your county health department.

Reporting Accidents or Abuse
Report accidents

Any accident that might require medical help or requires more than a band-aid must be reported on the first working day after the accident, by phone, fax or delivering the report form. Please remember to be objective and accurate with information on the form. The accident report might be involved in legal action.

The same form is used to report significant illness or allergic reactions, accidents or emergencies that did not result in injury, and other incidents. See the form for descriptions.

After an accident is reported, GSEWNI council staff will send a letter, instructions on how to file a claim and a claim form to the injured party. The injured girl’s parent/guardian or injured adult must fill out the claim form and return as instructed in the letter. GSEWNI council staff will verify the report and submit it to Mutual of Omaha for processing. The coverage is supplemental to the injured person’s own health insurance.

Reporting 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:


Online Safety

In order to makesure that girls are aware of how to safely use the Internet, you should discuss online safety issues with the girls and distribute copies of the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge. The girls should also take a copy of the pledge at home and go over it with their parents. Both the girl and her parent or guardian should sign the pledge.

Safeguard Information

Girls must understand that the Internet is an open means of communication that anyone can access. As such, websites will often attract people other than their intended users. It is therefore imperative that any information that could jeopardize the safety and security of girls and adults not be disclosed on a website.

The following measures will help to ensure girls’ online safety:

  • Girl Scouts should only use their first names.
  • A Girl Scout’s last name, address, phone number, or e‐mail address should never be posted.
  • Always have a parent’s or guardian’s permission when using pictures of girls on a website. This is especially important if the girl is under 13 years old.
  • Do not post addresses of group meeting places, dates and times of meetings, events or trips on a website. Instead, an adult who wishes to communicate upcoming events with families of Girl Scouts should send an email to the families.
  • Do not allow automatic posting of messages to a website. All postings to message boards, social media and guest books should have adult oversight, and be screened prior to posting live.
  • Ensure that websites do not show personal email addresses of girls, but use a troop, group or adult’s email.
Technology-Based Sales

Girl Scouts use the internet for a variety of reasons, including the online marketing and sale of approved Girl Scout-related products. Below are some key points to keep in mind for all online sales and marketing:

  • Girls must read, understand and accept the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge, prior to conducting any online sales or marketing activities.
  • Girls may send email messages to alert friends and relatives about product sales and accept customer commitments via email.
  • Social media sites may be used to market product; however, all applicable GSUSA and council guidelines must be followed.
  • Girls writing product emails or announcements online should sign with their first names only, their troop/group number or name and their council name.
  • Personal emails or street addresses of girls should never be used. Instead, use one of the following:
    • A blind return address account where the girls’ name or personal email is not revealed to the customer and is instead hosted on a secure site
    • A group account, monitored by an adult
    • An adult’s email account, which is supervised by that adult
  • Girls should never arrange in-person meetings with online contacts, other than to deliver cookies and only with the approval and accompaniment of a parent or designated adult.