Safe Church Activities


 

By planning effectively and following safety precautions, leaders can minimize the risk of accidents. Activities should include appropriate training and proper supervision.


Safety through Planning and Relying on the Spirit

Steve Thelin, rocket scientist and Scout leader, takes his Scouts on a camping and hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. Watch how their advanced planning, training, preparation, and willingness to listen to the Spirit led them safely out of a life-threatening experience.

 

Download: Small or Large

Do you have an experience that you would like to share? Please write us at ldsriskmgt@ldschurch.org, and we may consider using your story in a future video.


Safety E-Learning Resources

Are you prepared for risks? Consider having a ward discussion about these safety topics.


Help Line and Accident or Incident Reporting


  • Abuse help line for stake presidents and bishops

    U.S. and Canada:
    (800) 453-3860 ext 2-1911 or
    (801) 240-1911

    International:
    Bishops should contact their stake president, who will seek guidance from the Area Presidency (17.3.2)
  • Accident or incident reporting

    U.S. and Canada:
    (866) LDS-RISK (537-7475) or
    (801) 240-4049
    LDSRiskMgt@ldschurch.org

    International:
    Notify the area office (8.3.6)
     

Safety-Related Topics Addressed in Handbook 2

Safety-Related Topics Addressed in Handbook 2

Safety Precautions

Activities should involve minimal risk of injury or illness to participants. Activities should also involve minimal risk of damage to property. During activities, leaders make every effort to ensure safety. By planning effectively and following safety precautions, leaders can minimize the risk of accidents.

Activities should include appropriate training and proper supervision. They should also be appropriate for the participants’ age and maturity.

Leaders should be prepared for emergencies that may occur. They should also know in advance how to contact local law enforcement and emergency services.

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.20)

Activities: Policies and Guidelines

 


Elder Quentin L. Cook discusses the importance of following policies and procedures to improve safety in activities. (Worldwide Leadership Training, February 2011; see also Handbook 2, 13.6)

Accident Response

If an accident or injury occurs on Church property or during a Church-sponsored activity, leaders observe the following guidelines, as applicable:

  1. Render first aid. If a person needs medical care beyond simple first aid, contact emergency medical services, the bishop or stake president, and the parent, guardian, or other next of kin.
  2. In case of a missing person or fatality, immediately notify local law enforcement authorities and cooperate fully with them.
  3. Provide emotional support.
  4. Do not encourage or discourage legal action against the Church, and do not make commitments on behalf of the Church.
  5. Gather and preserve witness names and information, accounts of what happened, and photographs.

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.20)

Accident Reporting

The bishop or stake president should be notified promptly if:

  1. An accident, injury, or illness occurs on Church property or during a Church-sponsored activity.
  2. A person who was participating in a Church-sponsored activity is missing.
  3. Damage to private, public, or Church property occurs during a Church-sponsored activity.

If a person has been seriously injured or is missing, if property has been seriously damaged, or if legal action is threatened or anticipated, the stake president (or a bishop under his direction), promptly takes one of the following actions:

  1. In the United States or Canada, he notifies the Risk Management Division at Church headquarters (1-801-240-4049 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-4049; after business hours or on weekends, call 1-801-240-1000 or 1-800-453-3860, and the operator will contact someone immediately).
  2. Outside the United States and Canada, he notifies the area office.

Leaders also report injuries and damage involving Church facilities or property to the facilities manager.

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.20)

Travel

Members who travel in Church-sponsored groups should have the approval of the bishop or stake president. Travel for activities should not place undue burdens on members.

Long-distance travel for activities is discouraged. If a stake president or bishop feels that such travel may be justified, he prayerfully considers the potential spiritual benefits of the activity, the cost of the travel, and the effect on families before approving it.

If long-distance travel for an activity is approved, members should not provide it at their own expense. Nor should significant portions of the stake or ward budget allowance be retained from one year to the next to cover travel expenses.

Travel practices and the application of guidelines in this section should be consistent among units in the same coordinating council. Stake presidents may discuss and agree on general consistency in travel practices during coordinating council meetings.

Leaders fill out an Activity Plan form for activities that involve travel outside the local area.

When a Church activity for youth involves travel outside the local vicinity or staying overnight, parents should give written permission for their children to participate (see 13.6.13). Responsible adult supervision must be provided (see 13.6.2).

When feasible, Church groups should use commercial transportation that is licensed and is protected by liability insurance.

When Church groups travel in private passenger vehicles, each vehicle should be in safe operating condition, and each person should use a seat belt. Each driver should be a licensed, responsible adult. All vehicles and drivers should be covered with reasonable amounts of automobile liability insurance.

Church organizations may not own or acquire automobiles or buses for group travel.

A man and a woman should not travel alone together for Church activities, meetings, or assignments unless they are married to each other or are both single.

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.24)

Automobile Insurance

When feasible, Church groups should use commercial transportation that is licensed and is protected by liability insurance.

When Church groups travel in private passenger vehicles, each vehicle should be in safe operating condition, and each person should use a seat belt. Each driver should be a licensed, responsible adult. All vehicles and drivers should be covered with reasonable amounts of automobile liability insurance.

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.24)

Personal Health and Accident Insurance

In many parts of the world, health and accident insurance coverage is available to Church members through employer-sponsored, personal, or government programs. Where such coverage is available, members are responsible to access all available benefits provided through it if they incur an injury during a Church activity.

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.9)

Church Activity Medical Assistance (formerly Church Activity Insurance)

In the United States and Canada, Church Activity Medical Assistance (see Handbook 2: 13.6.9) provides limited but valuable assistance when medical, life insurance, or other coverage is not available. It is a limited discretionary gratuity assistance program administered by Deseret Mutual on behalf of the Church. The program provides for secondary medical and dental assistance and specific death and dismemberment losses. This program is primarily designed to supplement, not replace, a person’s own health and accident insurance.

Members who plan, conduct, and supervise activities in these countries should be knowledgeable about the Church Activity Medical Assistance, including its restrictions and limitations. The program is outlined in the Church Activity Medical Assistance Handbook, which is available online at www.dmba.com/churchactivity or through your local ecclesiastical leader. A printed copy of the handbook may be obtained by contacting:

Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators
P.O. Box 45530
Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0530
Telephone: 1-801-578-5650 or 1-800-777-1647
E-mail: churchactivity@dmba.com
Website: www.dmba.com/churchactivity

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.9)

Personal Liability Insurance

Where possible, those who oversee activities should protect themselves by carrying reasonable amounts of liability insurance. Such insurance may be available through homeowners insurance or other policies.

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.9)

Adult Supervision

Supervision by an adequate number of responsible adults should be provided for activities for children, youth, and young single adults. The number of adults needed is determined by the size of the group, the skill level of the group (for activities requiring certain skills), anticipated environmental conditions, and the overall degree of challenge of the activity. Parents should be encouraged to help.

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.2)

Overnight Activities

Parental permission is required for all overnight activities involving youth (see 13.6.13).

Overnight activities for combined groups of young men and young women or for combined groups of male and female single adults are not authorized unless approved by the stake president and bishop. Such activities are only rarely held, such as for a youth conference or temple visit.

On overnight activities, leaders arrange sleeping accommodations so that male and female participants do not sleep in immediate proximity to each other. Male and female leaders must have separate sleeping facilities. Married couples may share the same quarters if appropriate facilities are available.

When staying in tents, youth may not stay in the same tent as an adult unless (1) the adult is his or her parent or guardian or (2) there are at least two adults in the tent who are the same gender as the youth.

If adult leaders and youth share other overnight facilities, such as a cabin, there must be at least two adults in the facility, and they must be the same gender as the youth.

All overnight activities must include at least two adult leaders.

A sufficient number of adult priesthood leaders must be present at all times during overnight activities to provide support and protection. In the case of Young Women activities, priesthood leaders must stay in facilities separate from the young women. Leaders fill out an Activity Plan form for all overnight activities.

Overnight activities at Church meetinghouses or meetinghouse grounds are not approved.

Overnight activities at commercial buildings such as sports malls or gyms are not approved. With approval from priesthood leaders, dances or other activities may be held in commercial buildings after closing hours if the activities end at midnight. (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.12)

Parental Permission

Parents or guardians should be informed and give consent when youth participate in a Church activity. Written consent is necessary if an activity involves travel outside the local area (as determined by local leaders) or staying overnight. Leaders may also request written consent for other activities when they feel it is appropriate.

Parents and guardians give this consent by signing the Parental or Guardian Permission and Medical Release form. The person who leads the activity should have a signed form for each participant for each activity that requires written consent.

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 13.6.13)

Scouting: Properly Registered Scout Leaders

Members of the ward Young Men presidency generally serve as Scout leaders. Or the bishopric may call assistant quorum advisers as Scout leaders, with members of the Young Men presidency called to serve as assistant Scout leaders.

All adult Scout leaders should register before they begin their service and should receive proper training in their responsibilities. In the United States, registered adult leaders receive liability protection from the Boy Scouts of America.

(Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 8.13.4)

Scout leaders should also be registered (Scouting Handbook, 5).

Scouting: Calling Adult Scouting Leaders

All adult Scouting leaders must be properly registered and complete Youth Protection Training before beginning their service.

(Scouting Handbook, 5)

Scouting: Two-Deep Leadership

Two registered adult leaders or one registered adult leader and a parent of a participant (one of whom must be 21 years of age or older) are required on all Scouting trips, outings, classes, and meetings.

(Scouting Handbook, 5)