Apple-picking, aquariums, and museums, oh my!
These are just a few of the many field trips that some students are fortunate enough to go on.
Designed to be enriching and educational, field trips offer students many benefits and unique opportunities. They can also pose potential dangers and risks.
From bus crashes and negligent security to trips and falls, accidents happen. Once students exit the building or campus, who's liable for their injuries?
Here we'll cover field trip safety to help prevent these incidents and offer helpful information to protect both you and your students when the unexpected happens.
Most Common Field Trip Accidents and Injuries
Knowledge is power when it comes to preventing school trip accidents and injuries.
Understanding where danger lies can help ensure personal safety and keep students safe.
In 2019 alone, 109 people were killed in school bus-related accidents. Another 13,000 people were injured.
While these statistics include both bus passengers and other motorists, the potential for accidents is still present.
Motor vehicle accidents, in general, can be a cause of death among young adults. While you can't prevent every accident or control the negligence of other drivers, you can protect students by doing your due diligence.
Bus accidents can be caused by drowsy, distracted, or intoxicated drivers. Be sure to perform adequate background checks on all drivers transporting students.
Depending on where the field trip is held, there can be many dangers on-premises.
Sports games, hiking trails, and amusement parks all carry a certain level of risk for students. Even seemingly innocent environments like museums and theaters can still pose danger.
Students may be at risk of falling from high areas, having objects fall on them, or tripping. Preventing these types of accidents comes with a certain level of personal responsibility, but adult chaperones should be on the lookout for all potential hazards.
Insufficient Security Measures
Most public establishments that welcome field trips offer a certain level of security on site.
Whether it's a security guard, camera system, or bag checks at the door, all of these measures help protect students against outside dangers.
In addition to monitoring the safety of students, lack of security equipment and barriers can create potential threats. Missing or inadequate barriers and warning signs, as well as damaged equipment, put unsuspecting students at risk.
Field Trip Accident Prevention
Accidents happen -- and although you can't prevent them, you can take preventative measures to reduce risk and protect student safety and your best interests.
Appoint Qualified Staff
Not just any chaperone will do. Allocate experienced, knowledgeable staff members based on the type of field trip.
For example, if the trip involves swimming, only send staff members who are confident swimmers or have previous lifeguard training. Outdoor enthusiasts might be the perfect choice for a hiking or camping field trip.
The same goes for hired staff. If students are transported by bus, perform a detailed background check on both the bus company and its drivers to ensure student safety.
Practice Bus Safety
Since a majority of field trip accidents occur en route, bus safety is a top priority.
Ensure that all students remain seated and wear their seatbelts for the entire ride. Go over safety rules and behavioral expectations.
Students that are too loud, stand up or walk around the bus while it's in motion pose a threat to passengers. This behavior also distracts the driver, increasing the risk of an accident.
Get to Know the Area
Whether students are going to a museum, park, or outdoor area, all chaperones, staff, and students should familiarize themselves with the environment and posted safety guidelines.
Avoid restricted or unsafe areas. Make sure students stay together and each group has an appointed chaperone.
Alert teachers, supervisors, and students of any potential dangers and safety hazards.
When Accidents Happen, Who's to Blame?
There's no cut and dry answer to who's at fault for an accident or injury during a field trip. Several factors come into play including whether or not the event was truly an accident or caused by negligence on the part of the teachers or school district.
Most school districts have measures in place that help protect students even when they're taken off-campus as part of a school trip.
Things like signed permission slips, clearly defined rules, and precautionary measures help ensure the safety of students and protect school districts from being sued.
Before a decision about who's at fault is made, several factors must be considered. These include, but aren't limited to:
- Did the supervisor take appropriate action to protect the children?
- Did the danger or accident directly result in the student's injury?
- Was the student actually injured and if so, how extensively?
- Was lack of supervision a factor?
With so many underlying questions and concerns, every field trip accident and injury should be handled differently.
In the event of an accident, be sure to remain calm. This will help keep the student calm and comfortable.
Administer appropriate first-aid or call someone who can. Notify the parents as soon as possible and wait for a full investigation before admitting blame or taking responsibility for the incident.
The beauty of our insurance is that regardless of what happened, out-of-pocket medical expenses are covered. Now, you can worry less about legalities and costs and focus more on student safety and wellbeing.
Reasons to Purchase Accident and Health Insurance
Purchasing accident and health insurance is another preventative measure you can take to help protect not only your school but your students.
In the event that a student is seriously injured during a field trip, your insurance can pay to make them whole again.
A willingness to pay and make the student whole again is a sign of good faith and could prevent an unwanted lawsuit. Preventing lawsuits and having proper coverage in place is another way to help protect your reputation. It also shows both students and parents that you're invested in their safety and wellbeing.
General liability coverage with a competitive supplemental option will cover most costs associated with student injuries, both on- and off-campus.
Give Students the Safe, Positive Experience They Deserve
A field trip offers both students and teachers a rare opportunity to learn, grow, and experience outside the four walls of the classroom.
These hands-on encounters will leave a lasting impression on students.
Unfortunately, an accident or injury can do the same.
Help prevent these incidents by being aware of your surroundings, educating students on personal safety, and offering compensation when appropriate.
At pomi, we offer peace of mind insurance so that you can focus on what matters -- the students!
Get the coverage you need to provide a safe, enriching environment with confidence.