As the end of the school year nears, we sometimes forget about school safety. But for those of us sending or thinking about sending our children to summer camp, safety remains a priority. If you’ve sent your child to camp before, you may be familiar with many items on this list, if you’re a new, we’ve got you covered.
Your approach to summer camp safety should be no different than your approach to school safety. So whether you are preparing to send your child to summer camp or looking into possible programs, take a look at the summer camp safety checklist below:
Review the Camp – Think about touring the camp, speaking with a reference, and doing a little background investigation to determine whether the camp is accredited and if it adheres to safety and health standards as mandated by the state and/or city.
Camp Staff – Consider asking about the screening process, as well as staff experience and training. Are staff members subject to background checks and/or drug tests? What types of training are staff required to participate in and what types of certifications do they have? For example, are they familiar with first-aid and CPR? What about emergency training and behavior management? If there are swimming activities are there certified lifeguards?
Emergency Plans – Perhaps one of the most pressing concerns: do you have emergency plans in place? Ask about the types of emergency preparedness plans in place and communication procedures. What types of threats is the camp prepared for? How will parents be notified? Are there reunification plans in place?
Field Trip Safety – Ask about methods of transportation and how field trips are managed. Will camp members split into groups? How do group supervisors/chaperones communicate with each other? What is the adult to child ratio? Is there a buddy system? What is the protocol for a lost camper?
Sun Safety – During the summer children are subject to sunburns and heat exhaustion, how will the camp mitigate this issue? Remember that some camps don’t allow staff members to touch campers, so consider packing a spray-on sunscreen or asking beforehand.
Food Safety – What types of snacks/meals are typically served and how does the camp accommodate campers with food allergies? Does the camp have EpiPens and are there medical staff onsite prepared to deal with food allergy emergencies?
Medical Staff – Are there licensed medical professionals on site? What kinds of issues and procedures are they prepared to deal with? Don’t forget to inform them of any medical issues and instructions.
As you review the checklist, remember to voice any concerns you have with your camp director. Have a safe and sound summer!
May 15-21 is the 42nd Annual National EMS Week
With school safety concerns top of mind in many school communities, an increasing number are taking necessary steps to develop and improve emergency preparedness plans. As key players in community safety, our emergency medical technicians and providers are an ever important resource to school communities. This week in celebration of EMS week, we shine a light on EMS providers and encourage our Safe and Sound community to collaborate with these professionals for safer schools.
What is EMS?
EMS stands for Emergency Medical Services. EMS professionals provide basic and advanced medical care when people experience accidents or medical emergencies.
Who works for EMS?
EMS is made up of trained professionals including 9-1-1 dispatchers, emergency medical responders, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), advanced EMTs, and paramedics. Each EMS practitioner performs a role in a medical emergency and may be a paid worker or community volunteer. EMS care can be provided by police or fire departments, hospitals, private ambulance companies, or a combination of these.
What is EMS Week?
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), EMS Week dates back to 1974 when President Gerald Ford declared November 3 -10, “National Medical Services Week.” For the following four years, the observance continued until it was re-instituted by ACEP in 1982.
In 1992, EMS Week was moved to the third week of May, celebrating the important work EMS practitioners do to our communities. EMS Week brings communities together to honor those that provide day-to-day lifesaving services. Whether you publicly recognize your local EMS department with a catered lunch or award ceremony, or write a personalized thank you letter, EMS Week is the perfect time to recognize and reach out to your local EMS practitioners.
Why should we celebrate EMS Week?
In addition to providing day-to-day basic and advanced emergency care, EMS practitioners also assist in educating communities on safety and health care. For a school, that may mean providing CPR, first-aid, and preparedness to school staff or teaching children about health care, injury prevention, and 9-1-1 services.
How can schools work together with EMS?
School safety is a community effort. It takes all hands on deck. Schools can work together with EMS practitioners by:
- Inviting local EMS departments to visit the school – This allows the departments to become familiarized with the layout of the campus and its staff. Further, it allows students to become comfortable and accustomed to the sight of public safety figures, like EMS practitioners on school grounds.
- Taking a trip – Tour the local 9-1-1 dispatch center or schedule an ambulance tour for students at your school to increase understanding and familiarity between EMS personnel and students.
- Meeting to develop and update emergency preparedness plans – When it comes to emergency/crisis preparedness plans, schools should work together with public safety departments to develop strategies and plans for different types of emergencies and threats.
- Participating in CPR and first-aid training – According the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, the national average response time to an emergency is 5-6 minutes. During an emergency, every minute counts. Learning CPR and first-aid are invaluable skills to have, especially for school community members.
Access our AUDIT Toolkit and check out “A Welcome Invitation” to learn about School Safety Socials for first responders.
Sources: ACEP, NAEMT, National School Safety and Security Services, U.S. Department of Justice
Are you prepared? It’s a timely question for school communities and families. Across the country spring brings warm weather and more outdoor opportunities. With the gorgeous weather and added outdoor time we all enjoy, our communities and schools face increased weather and violence related incidents, as well as an annual uptick in physical injuries.
Safe and Sound Schools is proud to join FEMA as a National Strategy Affirmer, supporting nationwide youth preparedness and education.
This Saturday, April 30, we celebrate America’s PrepareAthon with countless other national organizations working to keep America’s communities prepared for safety! We invite you to celebrate with us. There are many ways you can work together as a family and within your community to increase preparedness and awareness to keep yourselves and those you love safe.
It’s easier than you think! Here are just a few ideas to get you started and share with family, friends, at school, and work:
- 1. Access Alerts and Warnings–Take a moment to explore emergency notification systems in your community and school. Register yourself and your family members to receive critical emergency information.
2. Conduct an Exercise–This could be as simple as an in-home fire drill and family meet-up or helping plan one in your child’s school community. Consider reaching out to neighbors to share plans and information to boost your safety capability during an emergency.
3. Update Emergency Supplies–First aid kits, Go Bags, and food storage are great ways to keep critical items at hand when you need them. Take stock and organize together.
4. Make a Family Plan–Gather important information and decide on meeting places & communication channels. Put your plan on paper together with Family Plan Emergency Cards.
5. Take a Class–Sign up for a CPR or First Aid class in your community. If you are already certified, consider a refresher or advanced course.
For more fun and easy ways to stay safe, visit https://community.fema.gov/take-action/activities and join us in preparing for safety with America’s PrepareAthon!
-Michele Gay, Safe and Sound Schools
If a crisis occurs in the school or anywhere in public, it can be a very daunting experience for anyone, especially if they are not prepared. But, imagine what it would be like for a student with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Children with ASD have a difficult time responding to changes or interruptions in their schedules. They not only need structure, repetitiveness and consistent schedules, but they also must have access to the resources and tools to keep them safe.
At The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation, our mission is to help families live life to the fullest. Through our programs and partnerships, people can access the services they need to lead active lifestyles and build their adult independence. Safety and preparation for a crisis situation is crucial for families to consider. This is why it is part of our core mission.
To give parents peace of mind, or at least help them prepare in case of an emergency, we have supported several safety initiatives including ALEC and SafetyNet Tracking Systems. Through Joey’s Fund, we have funded multiple fences for families who are concerned about the safety of their child but cannot afford to pay for one.
ALEC (Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition) is a first responder training program that provides an in-depth understanding of ASD to public safety and law enforcement personnel. We have supported ALEC’s Community Days in the Boston area to spread awareness about this safety program. ALEC’s Community Days allows individuals with ASD and their families to meet and interact with police, firemen and EMS in a non-emergency situation in their community. More information can be found through the Arc of South Norfolk at http://www.arcsouthnorfolk.org/alec-first-responder-training.html
For over five years, we have also partnered with SafetyNet Tracking Systems (formerly LoJack SafetyNet) to provide children with autism GPS tracking bracelets through the Flutie Foundation’s Safe & Secure Program. This service enables public safety agencies to effectively search for and rescue individuals with autism who wander and go missing. SafetyNet not only provides the equipment for local law enforcement but offers a comprehensive training program to first responders. The program allows first responders to become familiar with the communication challenges an individual with autism may have and can adapt their search to rescue and return the individual home safely.
Another great resource to consider is Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide to Safety developed by Organization for Autism Research. It is a comprehensive guide for parents on safety issues and strategies to consider. It includes an Appendix for School Safety and Crisis Planning. You can download the guide for free at: http://www.researchautism.org/resources/reading/index.asp#AGuideToSafety
Although we cannot prevent every tragedy or prepare for all crisis situations, we can better protect this at-risk population by educating ourselves and taking advantage of the growing number of safety resources that are available for individuals with autism.
Lisa Borges is the Executive Director of The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.
The National Autism Association has a lot of great resources and safety products for parents as well as a Safety Teacher Toolkit for educators in need of wandering prevention tools.
The Autism FYI Organization– their mission is to promote a safe environment for the increasing ASD population in their existing communities and is in the process of establishing a national registry for safety.
Autism Speaks – Autism Safety Project
Preparedness is a hard word to digest. It’s long and has a stale taste as it leaves your lips. As a concept, it is always just a little too ambiguous (i.e., How do I know when I’m really prepared?) or too overwhelming (i.e., The 165.5 Steps to Safety).
Preparedness, by any other name, is much more simple—it’s being ready. Unlike preparing for emergencies, preparing for everyday things is easier and often happens without forethought. We prepare for the day by “making sure the kids have both shoes and a lunch when they leave for school” or we prepare for success by “studying to pass our tests and graduate.” Preparation comes easily and makes the most sense when we do it to provide for, protect and support the people we love so that they can be safe, healthy and successful.
The fault in our logic is that, because we don’t know when emergencies might happen, we don’t necessarily prepare for them in the way that we should. The devastating aspect of this lack of preparation is that our children—the people we love the most—are often the most vulnerable individuals in times of crises. As a nation we are largely under-prepared to protect children in emergencies.
- Each day, 69 million children are in school or child care, away from their parents should disaster strike. Still 21 states and the DC lack basic standards for protecting children in these settings.
- Less than half of American families have an emergency plan.
- And although two-thirds of parents are concerned about the risk their child faces from disasters or school shootings, 67 percent don’t know how often and what types of emergency drills are practiced at school.
Keeping children safe requires the cooperation and involvement of the entire community. It involves emergency managers, government, organizations, schools, care providers, and families who want children to be safe no matter where they are. Between the systems, plans and protocols, YOU, as a parent or care giver, play the most critical role keeping children safe and securing their future.
We need to be champions for our children—if we aren’t, who will be?
Don’t wait until it’s too late to take action.
- Be familiar with your community’s emergency protocols, including communication and warning systems.
- Ask about schools’ and caregivers’ emergency plans; ensure that everyone who cares for your child(ren) has your current emergency contact information.
- Make a family emergency plan that accounts for different types of emergencies and identifies different evacuation routes and meet-up locations.
- Be an advocate for children’s safety, raising your voice about creating emergency plans at state and local levels that account for children’s unique needs.
Fostering a culture of preparedness begins with children. It’s about starting the dialogue about emergencies early in life, making education a priority, and creating an environment where preparedness is expected, not an afterthought tacked on to the latest disaster. By integrating these life-saving skills and lessons from the beginning, we can turn the tide, sparking a movement and building a generation of citizens who are prepared for disaster.
If that ugly preparedness word still plagues you and you’re tempted to avoid it or put it off, I urge you do it now–do it for your kids. They deserve a safe and empowered childhood. They deserve the opportunity to talk about, learn, and build resilience before an emergency strikes.
Whether we admit it or not, saying, “I prepared to keep you safe” is saying, “I love you and protecting you is important to me.”
-Sarah Thompson, Associate Director, Get Ready Get Safe, Save the Children