Use this safety overview to navigate the hidden
dangers in your ministry.

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“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.”

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
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 some
potential risk. From being dropped off, to playing on the see-saw,
to going to the bathroom.

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This reality isn’t meant to scare you but to open your eyes to
situations and circumstances that could prove harmful to your kids
and your ministry. Keeping kids safe is a ministry in and of
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 guidelines.

Jolie challenges a friend to see who can swing the highest.

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

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.

Jolie brings an inhaler for her asthma to Sunday school.

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

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

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

No child should be left unattended while being diapered.

Children’s hands should be washed after toileting.

First Aid
You should have first-aid kits on each floor of each building used
by children, near all outdoor play areas, and on all field

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.

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