VBS Safety Tipsplanning ahead // on Tuesday July 12, 2016
The summer months are a very popular time for churches to host Vacation Bible School (VBS). This week long event provides the perfect opportunity to teach the youngest members of your congregation more about your ministry.
While this can be a fun time for everyone involved, there is always a chance for risks. In order to keep children, staff and volunteers safe during VBS, it is important to take various safety measures.
Staff and Volunteers – The staff and volunteers who help out with VBS are essential to running a great program. However, it is important to screen everyone before they start in order to protect all children from a potentially harmful situation. Conduct a background check on each individual to ensure they do not have a criminal history.
In addition, take measures to prevent harassment among staff and volunteer members. Conduct initial training for any new workers, and make sure all policies and procedures are communicated properly.
Food Safety – Whether it is a snack, meal or part of an activity, food is often served at VBS. With the number of food allergies and food-related illnesses that can occur, it is important to be aware of the food you are preparing for the week.
- Allergies – Avoid preparing foods that are commonly associated with food allergies such as peanuts, nuts and dairy products. It may also be beneficial to collect a list of food allergies that children or staff may have. If you are aware of their allergies, an allergic reaction may be easier to prevent. If an allergic reaction does take place, be sure your staff is educated on how to handle the situation, such as symptoms to look for, who to contact for medical attention and the use of an EpiPen. For more information on food allergies, visit the Food Allergies safety resource.
- Preparation – If food is not prepared correctly, it can increase the chance for food borne illnesses to occur. It is very important to pay attention to cleanliness when preparing food. Make sure all staff and volunteers wash their hands before working with food and all utensils and cooking materials are clean. Additionally, ensure the foods you are using are not expired by checking the “use by” date and be sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables. To learn more about food preparation safety, visit the Food Safety – Preparing and Serving safety resource.
Facility Safety – Hosting VBS at your facility typically means there is more equipment, materials and people around. To avoid accidents and injury, it is important to keep all of these extra items in tip top shape. Move all cords (speakers, microphones, projectors, etc.) away from walkways. If they must be there, tape them down with brightly colored tape for better visibility. Also, make sure all materials that may have been used for an activity or project are put away properly after use. Items left out and unattended may cause someone to trip.
First Aid – With so many extra people, you can almost count on needing to use your First Aid kit during VBS, whether it be for a minor scrape or something more serious. Before the week begins, verify that your church or facility has a proper First Aid kit that is fully stocked, and consider training all staff and volunteers on First Aid basics and CPR. Additionally, create procedures on what to do in the event of a medical emergency, and educate all staff and volunteers on these procedures. Being prepared in the event of a medical emergency can help settle the situation and get the individual the necessary medical attention.
By taking the above safety tips into consideration when planning and running your VBS this summer, it can help prevent unfortunate situations from taking place and allow for an overall great experience.