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Keeping Kids Safe at Your Club

Making your club a place for kids has many benefits. It can make the lives of parents easier since they don’t have to arrange for a sitter, it turns a visit to the club into a family experience, and it brings in extra revenue for your business.

However, while there are benefits, there can be risks as well. Allowing kids at your club means you must take extra precautions to ensure that they are kept safe from harm when on your property. We’ve compiled a list of potential risks to having children at your club, and what you can do to help ensure their safety.

Safety on the Greens/Golfing Safety

Golf, while a fun and challenging activity for kids, still has dangers. Flying golf balls, swinging clubs, and inadequate gear can lead to bumps and bruises that ruin the day.

Golfers know when they hear someone shouting, “Fore!” they need to take cover. They also know to stand behind the swing to avoid being accidently hit by a freshly struck golf ball. Kids, on the other hand, may need help learning these rules. Staff should be aware of the need to instruct them on common etiquette around golf balls to prevent an incident.

A golf club is, well, a club. It’s designed to hit a ball with maximum efficiency, and it can be a dangerous tool when in the hands of a child or around kids who are not paying attention. Have your staff keep an eye out for kids who are swinging golf clubs at property or other people instead of the ball. And, have them prevent kids from getting too close to other golfers taking swings.

Finally, encourage parents to bring the right gear for a day on the course. This includes gloves for blisters, golf shoes to prevent slipping, a water bottle for dehydration, and sunscreen/proper clothing for sun protection. By encouraging these items, you can prevent unnecessary injuries to your youngest patrons.

Golf Cart Safety

Kids and golf carts can be a dangerous mix. Small children can be difficult to see and don’t always respect the rules of being a pedestrian. Parents may also take unnecessary risks with their children in the golf cart, putting both themselves and their kids at risk. To help prevent an accident, consider enforcing these rules to help make everyone safer around golf carts.

  • Do not allow anyone under the age of six to ride in a golf cart. Anyone under the age of 16 should be barred from driving a golf cart.
  • Drivers and passengers should remain seated and wearing a seatbelt while the vehicle is moving.
  • Watch for dangerous driving. Ensure drivers are reducing their speeds around pedestrians, intersections, and at dusk.
  • Encourage children to use handgrips and remind them to stay in the vehicle at all times while in motion.

Golf carts are vehicles, and they should be treated with the same respect we show cars on the road. These simple tips can be the difference between an unforgettable family outing and a catastrophe on the course.

Pool Safety

A pool can be an attractive feature to have at a club. Unfortunately, they also pose a risk for drowning, especially for kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatal drowning ranks second behind motor vehicle accidents for unintentional injury-related death among children aged 1–14.

Drowning isn’t the only concern around pools. Slips and falls, as well as potential exposure to dangerous chemicals, can lead to disaster. Here are some rules to consider when developing pool safety best practices.

  • If no lifeguard is on duty, display signage clearly.
  • Keep all safety equipment accessible, clearly marked, and in good repair.
  • Clearly mark pool depth and display no diving signage for shallow depths.
  • Properly maintain pool water with appropriate chemicals.
  • Provide safe storage for all chemicals.
  • Keep pool deck free of puddles and algae growth.
  • Prohibit glass items in the pool area.
  • Ensure non-slip surfaces are always in good repair.
  • Establish clear rules about supervision.

Setting rules for your guests, and clear expectations for your staff, can significantly reduce the risk of injury, permanent disability, and death without breaking the relaxing poolside atmosphere. Learn more about pool safety in our blog post, “Diving into Summer: Pool Safety Tips for Your Club.”

Preventing Abuse and Misconduct

Finally, you need to be aware of the steps you can take to reduce the risk of sexual abuse at your club. Because your employees have contact with minors during summer camps, day camps, and through the golf season, you must ensure you are protecting the children who visit your club.

One of the most effective ways to reduce the chance of sexual abuse is by conducting thorough background checks on potential staff and volunteers. A federal background check can reveal the troubled past of a potential employee, reducing your risk of hiring an abuser.

Outside of federal background checks, you can also conduct your own investigation. This can be done through referencing the National Sex Offenders Public Registry and calling an applicant’s references. If you see their name on the registry or discover they had a poor reputation at previous workplaces, continue your search for the right person for the role.

Here are some additional rules to follow when working with minors to reduce the possibility of abuse.

  • Have two or more adults in a room with children.
  • For overnight meetings, have an adequate ratio of adults to children.
  • Regularly check in on classrooms or meetings.
  • Require regular staff education and training on policies and procedures.
  • Have a plan in place to address allegations should an incident occur.

With proper preparation, guidance, and planning, you can mitigate the risks of your club facing an allegation.

Following these tips and rules can help reduce risks that go along with having children at your club. For more information, contact the insurance professionals at VGM Insurance & Financial Solutions.

David A. Harnois, CCM, CPL, is a proud employee owner of VGM Insurance & Financial Solutions, specializing in commercial and group program business. He provides insurance solutions for clubs through his VGM Club endorsed program. Contact David at 319-800-6676 or at david.harnois@vgm.com.

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