Health & Safety

BSA's Commitment to Safety

We want you to know that the safety of our youth, volunteers, staff, and employees is an important part of the Scouting experience. Youth develop traits of citizenship, character, fitness, and leadership during age-appropriate events when challenged to move beyond their normal comfort level, and discover their abilities. This is appropriate when risks are identified and mitigated.

The Scouting program, as contained in our handbooks and literature, integrates many safety features. However, no policy or procedure will replace the review and vigilance of trusted adults and leaders at the point of program execution.

Commit yourself to creating a safe and healthy environment by:

  • Knowing and executing the BSA program as contained in our publications
  • Planning tours, activities, and events with vigilance using the tools provided
  • Setting the example for safe behavior and equipment use during program
  • Engaging and educating all participants in discussions about hazards and risks
  • Reporting incidents in a timely manner

Thank you for being part of the Scouting movement and creating an exciting and safe experience for every participant. 

Sweet 16 of BSA Safety

As an aid in the continuing effort to protect participants in a Scout activity, the BSA National Health and Safety Committee and the Council Services Division of the BSA National Council have developed the "Sweet Sixteen" of BSA safety procedures for physical activity. These 16 points, which embody good judgement and common sense, are applicable to all activities.

1. QUALIFIED SUPERVISION

Every BSA activity should be supervised by a conscientious adult who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of the children and youth in his or her care. The supervisor should be sufficiently trained, experienced, and skilled in the activity to be confident of his/her ability to lead and to teach the necessary skills and to respond effectively in the event of an emergency. Field knowledge of all applicable BSA standards and a commitment to implement and follow BSA policies and procedures are essential parts of the supervisor's qualifications.

2. PHYSICAL FITNESS

For youth participants in any potentially strenuous activity, the supervisor should receive a complete health history from a health-care professional, parent, or guardian. Adult participants and youth involved in higher-risk activity (e.g., scuba) may require professional evaluation in addition to the health history. The supervisor should adjust all supervision, discipline, and protection to anticipate potential risks associated with individual health conditions. Neither youth nor adults should participate in activities for which they are unfit. To do so would place both the individual and others at risk.

3. BUDDY SYSTEM

The long history of the buddy system in Scouting has shown that it is always best to have at least one other person with you and aware at all times as to your circumstances and what you are doing in any outdoor or strenuous activity.

4. SAFE AREA OR COURSE

A key part of the supervisor's responsibility is to know the area or course for the activity and to determine that it is well-suited and free of hazards.

5. EQUIPMENT SELECTION AND MAINTENANCE

Most activity requires some specialized equipment. The equipment should be selected to suit the participant and the activity and to include appropriate safety and program features. The supervisor should also check equipment to determine that it is in good condition for the activity and is properly maintained while in use.

6. PERSONAL SAFETY EQUIPMENT

The supervisor must ensure that every participant has and uses the appropriate personal safety equipment. For example, activity afloat requires a life jacket properly worn by each participant; bikers, horseback riders, and whitewater kayakers need helmets for certain activities; skaters may need protective gear; and all need to be dressed for warmth and utility depending on the circumstances.

7. SAFETY PROCEDURES AND POLICIES

For most activities, there are common-sense procedures and standards that can greatly reduce the risk. These should be known and appreciated by all participants, and the supervisor must ensure compliance.

8. SKILL LEVEL LIMITS

There is a minimum skill level requirement for every activity, and the supervisor must identify and recognize this minimum skill level and be sure that no participants are put at risk by attempting an activity beyond their ability. A good example of skill levels in Scouting is the venerable swim test, which defines conditions for safe swimming based on individual ability.

9. WEATHER CHECK

The risk factors in many outdoor activities vary substantially with weather conditions. These variables and the appropriate response should be understood and anticipated.

10. PLANNING

Safe activity follows a plan that has been conscientiously developed by the experienced supervisor or other competent source. Good planning minimizes risks and also anticipates contingencies that may require emergency response or a change of plan.

11. COMMUNICATIONS

The supervisor needs to be able to communicate effectively with participants as needed during the activity. Emergency communications also need to be considered in advance for any foreseeable contingencies.

12. PLANS AND NOTICES

BSA tour and activity plans, council office registration, government or landowner authorization, and any similar formalities are the supervisor's responsibility when such are required. Appropriate notification should be directed to parents, enforcement authorities, landowners, and others as needed, before and after the activity.

13. FIRST-AID RESOURCES

The supervisor should determine what first-aid supplies to include among the activity equipment. The level of first-aid training and skill appropriate for the activity should also be considered. An extended trek over remote terrain obviously may require more first-aid resources and capabilities than an afternoon activity in the local community. Whatever is determined to be needed should be available.

14. APPLICABLE LAWS

BSA safety policies generally run parallel or go beyond legal mandates, but the supervisor should confirm and ensure compliance with all applicable regulations or statutes.

15. CPR RESOURCE

Any strenuous activity or remote trek could present a cardiac emergency. Aquatics programs may involve cardiopulmonary emergencies. The BSA strongly recommends that a CPR-trained person (preferably an adult) be part of the leadership for any BSA program. Such a resource should be available for strenuous outdoor activity.

16. DISCIPLINE

No supervisor is effective if he or she cannot control the activity and the individual participants. Youth must respect their leader and follow his or her direction.

 

 

 

File Name Description
19-141.ppt BSA Health Officer Training Download
680-016.pdf Incident Information Report Download
680-017.pdf Near Miss Incident Information Report Download
680-028.pdf Age Guidelines for Tool Use Download
680-033.pdf Incident Descriptions and Reporting Instructions Download
ACE_Insurance_Certificate Accident Insurance Description of Coverage Download
ageappropriatechart.pdf BSA Age Appropriate Guidelines Download
HSR_Claim_Form.pdf Accident Insurance Claim Form Download
LFC Personal Firearms Policy.pdf Council Personal Firearms Policy Download
liabilityins.pdf Certificate of Insurance Request Form Download