A large part of ministry is the act of keeping kids safe whenever they’re in your care. Use these ministry safety tips and guidelines to strengthen your ministry and keep kids safe and sound.
Playground accidents result in 17 deaths and 170,000 emergency room visits each year.
Car, bus, and van accidents are one of the top three types of injuries for which churches are repeatedly sued.
Two of the largest insurance companies that insure churches report they receive up to two claims a day from churches for serious injury and one a day for sexual molestation.
Six-year-old Jolene loves coming to Sunday school. Her teacher and friends know her as Jolie. Her single mom never thinks twice about safety before dropping her off at Sunday school; church is a literal sanctuary in the inner city neighborhood they call home. To them, church is a good place, a fun place, a safe place. But is it? Virtually every activity Jolie will be involved in on Sunday morning holds at least some potential risk. From being dropped off, to playing on the see-saw, to going to the bathroom.
We must keep our eyes open to situations and circumstances that could prove unsafe or harmful to kids. Keeping kids safe is a ministry in itself: “A ministry that makes safety and security for kids a high priority is a witness to God’s love, expressed through caring staff and volunteers. Many more people will have their faith diminished by an incident than will turn away from God because precautions are too burdensome,” say William Stout and James Becker, authors of The Good Shepherd Program.
The good news? Nearly all risks are preventable with your savvy application of these safety guidelines.
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1. PLAYGROUND SAFETY TIPS
According to Consumer Products Safety Commission data, playground accidents result in 17 deaths and 170,000 emergency room visits each year. And most playground accidents are due to falls. Accident-proof your play area with these guidelines from the National Recreation and Park Association.
- Clear the ground of objects that could cause a child to trip, such as tree roots, rocks, and concrete anchors.
- Swings, seesaws, and other pieces of moving equipment should be at least 12 feet apart to create a safe “fall zone” and reduce the risk of kids getting hit by a swing or another child. The ground should be covered with rubber tiles or mats or 12 inches of loose mulch, sand, or pea gravel. This should also extend at least 6 feet around the perimeter of equipment.
- Openings between ladder rungs should be greater than 9 inches to avoid strangulation.
- Platforms, ramps, and bridges should have guardrails to prevent falls. Guardrails and slats should be less than 3 1/2 inches apart.
- Provide adequate supervision; more than 40 percent of injuries are related to a lack of adult supervision.
- Inspect the outdoor area daily for debris such as broken glass, trash, and animal droppings; standing water; and signs of insects such as wasps’ nests and anthills.
- Inspect regularly for sharp parts or edges; worn swing chains and S-hooks; loose nuts and bolts; and rotting wood, splinters, rust, or peeling paint.
2. HEALTH PRACTICES AND FIRST AID TIPS
The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care offers these tips for maintaining good health practices and keeping your kids safe from accidents.
- Medication or special medical procedures should be administered to a child only when there’s a written, signed, and dated request from the parent(s)/guardian(s).
- Prescription drugs and other medications should be in the original containers and clearly labeled with the child’s name and dosage schedule and should include written directions for administering the medication.
- The time and dosage of all medication administered to children should be recorded and a copy provided to the child’s parent(s)/guardian(s).
- All medication should be kept in an area inaccessible to the children and removed when no longer needed.
- Staff should wash their hands with soap and warm running water before and after assisting with toileting, diapering, or wiping noses and after exposure to blood or body fluids.
- Surfaces contaminated with blood or body fluids should be cleaned with a solution of chlorine bleach and water.
- The changing area should be located within clear view of anyone entering the room.
- The changing area should include a surface with a clean, seamless, waterproof, and sanitary covering for each changing process.
- Staff should wear disposable plastic gloves when changing diapers or dealing with blood or body fluids.
- Changing tables should be sanitized after each use by washing to remove visible soil and then wiping with an approved sanitizing solution. Or use disposable, nonabsorbent paper sheets and discard them immediately after each diapering.
- If disposable diapers are used, they should be placed in a covered, plastic-lined container and disposed of daily.
- Individual wipes or a clean single cloth wipe should be used at each diaper change and should be placed in a plastic-lined, covered container and disposed of properly-out of the reach of children.
- No child should be left unattended while being diapered.
- Children’s hands should be washed after toileting.
- You should have first-aid kits on each floor of each building used by children, near all outdoor play areas, and on all field trips.
- Each first-aid kit should include at a minimum: scissors, tweezers, gauze pads, adhesive tape, assorted types of Band-Aids, an antiseptic cleansing solution, thermometer, ipecac syrup, two or more triangular bandages, disposable gloves, and a first-aid instructional manual.
- Each kit must be out of the reach of children, but easily accessible to staff.
- All staff must know where the kits are located.
- Your staff and volunteers should be trained in basic first aid and child and infant CPR.