The notes below have been prepared to help make passengers aware of the main areas of risk whilst they are away on a school trip.
Whilst they are generic for all school trips, please read them carefully and note any parts that apply to your party.
Safety points of note:
The most dangerous things that you will do
On coaches and Planes
On the ferry
In the hotel
Conduct on excursion & risk assessments
Safety in host families
Curfew times / Lights out / Alcohol & Drug abuse
Protective sun-screens, hats and clothing
Other useful advice
The most dangerous thing to do whilst you are away is cross the road
More people are killed and injured every day on our roads than in any other activity. Statistics tell us that 1 in 2 people will be in some way involved in at least a minor road accident during their life, and as many as 1 in 10 will sustain significant injury as a result. This is something that we have been trained for since we were small children, something that we do every day and many of us will be inclined to take this activity for granted!
You should remember that crossing the road on the continent involves traffic travelling on the opposite side of the road from the UK and that as a result your reflex to “look right, look left and look right again” before crossing the road if the way is clear, needs to be reversed in Europe.
KEY POINT: Whilst on the continent you need to "look left, look right, look left again"
Teachers, pupils and Group Leaders tell us that many of them forget this basic principle because they are trained to instinctively “look right” and take most care initially towards any traffic approaching from the left before crossing the road. It is especially likely to happen when you are in a group or talking to a friend whilst walking across the street. A momentary lapse of concentration could prove fatal.
On Coaches and Planes
The wearing of seat belts is the responsibility of each passenger.
Teachers and Group Leaders will remind the group to do this but ultimately it is your responsibility to take responsibility for your own safety in this respect.
Best Health and Safety practice requires a member of staff to be sitting by the emergency doors on coaches. If you are travelling on a French coach, this is a legal requirement.
N.B. Your personal property is not covered by insurance if left on the coach at any time, except in a locked luggage compartment.
KEY POINT: Please wear your seat belt at all times during the journey and where ever they are provided abroad.
KEY POINT: It is advised that Group Leaders carry out regulat Head Counts throughout the trip to ensure a pupil is not lost or missing.
On the Ferry.
On the ferry you should take care on the stairways. When returning to the coach there may be many hundreds of people crowding the steep stairways and accidents can happen.
When you first get on the ferry make sure that you know which deck level and stairway you need to take back to the coach. Make sure you start making your way back to the coach as soon as you are instructed to by the ships announcements. The coach has to disembark from the ferry when instructed. If all passengers are not on board those passengers have to leave the ferry as foot passengers and meet up with the coach at the passenger terminal area.
Listen to the Safety Announcements on board and read the assembly and safety notices that are displayed. Out on the deck there are safety rails but students should take extreme care not to go too close to the edge. Never go out on deck in bad weather. Party Leaders with young pupils should remain with their group for the duration of the crossing.
KEY POINT: Take a note of your Deck Number and the Staircase colour/symbol!
Safety in the Hotel
All hotels have safety equipment and evacuation notices and signs and notices carefully and take note of where the evacuation and assembly points are in the event of a fire and how to raise the alarm.
It is quite usual for hotels on the continent not to specify an assembly point in the event of fire evacuation.
Teachers and Group Leaders should define their own assembly points and then inform the group. It is good practice to check that all the group are aware of the emergency procedures.
Emergency Telephone numbers for Police, Fire and Ambulance Services are kept at hotel reception.
Fire & Lifts
KEY POINT: NEVER use a lift in a hotel or any accommodation if there is a fire.
Normally in UK there are signs in the lift to tell you this. In Europe such signs are uncommon so tell your group.
KEY POINT: NEVER try to tackle a fire yourself!
Smoking in Hotel rooms can be dangerous.
The principle cause of fire in homes and public places is smoking. Please try to ensure that students and other party members are aware of the risks and do not smoke in hotel rooms. Hotels and other public places on the continent are now NO SMOKING areas.
Windows & Balconies
Extreme care should be taken when near windows and balconies. Never threaten to push someone near a balcony or window and never lean out. Sensible behaviour is essential at heights.
Never use hair dryers or electrical appliances with wet hands. Do not leave a hot hair dryer on a bed or on top of clothing or towels – they may catch fire.
Do not overload the electrical system and report any faults or concerns to the Hotel management and your Group Leaders.
Security in the Hotel
Always lock your room when you go out. Lock your room at night.
Valuables (especially mobile phones) that are left in the room are at your own risk. Your travel insurance requires that money and valuables should be kept on your person or held in a safety deposit box where available.
If a swimming pool is available for use, advise pupils of the conditions of use and any behavioural or supervision rules relating to it. Most hotel pools do not have trained life guards. Teachers should refer to their Governors or LEA policy relating to swimming activities and necessary supervision.
Conduct on Excursions & Risk assessments
KEY POINT: Students should assist their teachers and group leaders wherever possible.
Teachers and Group Leaders will try to make students aware of all potential hazards and problems and are obliged to conduct risks assessments before departure.
Many Generic Risk Assessments are available from Inspired Travel for the most popular resorts attraction and destinations to be visited to help make all passengers aware of potential dangers or problems but Party Leaders need to take into account any special risks or provisions required with reference to the type of group or individual students that they are taking. According to English Law, Teachers and Leaders in charge of children are deemed to be in ‘Loco Parentis’ at all times. This means that teachers must take all the reasonable precautions that a parent would be expected to take.
KEY POINT: Take care when handling money - don't flash a purse or wallet about.
Take care not to take too much money out with you at any one time and beware of talking to or being approached by strangers. You are required to carry your passport/ID Card on you at all times when abroad. We suggest groups carry ID with name and school and Group Leader contact, rather than passports as these can be lost or mislaid.
Most young people have been taught to be cautious of strangers who approached them in the street – Stranger Danger.
Beware of people who come up to you and ask you the time or something that seems relatively innocent, in order to engage you in conversation. Your style of dress (English boy/girl “out on the town”), tourist garb (camera) or other mannerisms may have been spotted a mile away and once you speak to them they will know from your accent that you are foreign and probably English. If you think that they look suspicious or undesirable or if you do not want to speak to them, you should ignore them completely (don’t even look at them) and stare straight ahead.
This is the usual technique used by continentals. If you avoid looking at them or getting into conversation with them they will think you are a local! (Or at worst a bit rude.)
Style of dress on the continent is a genuinely serious cultural difference that has caused problems for girls in the past. Local boys and men have followed girls around who have been dressed normally for going out in the UK and the girls have been very intimidated and disturbed at the unwanted attention. Take care to dress appropriately for the place you are visiting to save problems.
Safety in Host families (where appropriate)
Normally students will be housed 1 or 2 students per family. All families and accommodation have been vetted by the Language School for Health and Safety but students should still be vigilant about Health and Safety in the home which is where many accidents occur. The kitchen usually has the most hazards because of hot food, water, utensils or cookers, and possible spillages, slips or sharp knives/tins. Wet or slippery bathrooms are another hazard to watch out for and stairs, windows or balconies as mentioned in the Hotel/ accommodation section above.
If you have any worries or concerns about your Health or Safety in your family stay placement you should mention your worry to your hosts or raise the matter with your Group Leaders.
Curfew time – Lights out / Alcohol and drug abuse
The curfew time and lights out time will be set by your Teachers / Group Leaders. If you are in doubt, ask.
Alcohol and Drug abuse
If you drink alcohol or take drugs your judgement may be impaired. It is strictly forbidden by law to drink under age or take illegal drugs.
There is a specific exclusion for claims that arise whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol. See your Insurance Policy document for details.
Slips and spills are still the major cause of accidents. To help prevent them: don’t leave things lying around, keep hotel rooms and coach corridor areas and gangways tidy and clear.
Clean up spills straight away.
Always close drawers.
Always wash your hands before eating or touching food, using soap and water or a suitable cleanser.
Dry your hands after washing.
Tell your Teachers or Group Leaders about your medical problems immediately you experience a problem and always take any medication with you that you use regularly or you are likely to need when abroad. If you are on prescribed medication or seeing your GP/ Consultant on a regular / periodic review, it may be necessary to complete a pre-existing medical declaration form and send it to the insurance company. Failure to do so may invalidate the insurance. Please ask your teacher to check with Inspired Travel if this will be necessary.
Protective sun-screens, hats and clothing
Sun-tan cream, and sun-glasses or hats should be worn/applied to protect your skin and eyes from intense sunlight, especially on ski tours or trips to hot climates.
KEY POINT: Intense sunlight on ski trips or in hot climates can damage the skin - always use a high factor sun screen, minimum 30spf! Wear a hat!
It may feel strange and you usually won’t win any fashion contests, but you’ll have a better chance of staying out of hospital or being ill.
KEY POINT: Don't take expensive jewellery or camera that may become a target for thieves or pickpockets.
Other useful advice
Alcohol is often a cause of problems with students whilst on school tours. Drinking laws on the continent are far more relaxed than in the UK and alcohol may unintentionally be sold to children.
Party leaders are therefore advised to discuss drinking guidelines with the students and parents prior to departure.
Emergency funds are highly recommended to cover accidental damage, emergency medical expenses or ambulance charges. We advise that party leaders carry these with them whilst on the journey together with the EHIC for all passengers.
Most governing bodies & LEA’s now advise Teachers & Group Leaders to carry a First Aid Kit whilst on excursions. Whilst there will be a first aid kit at hotel receptions, on board ship or on your coach/plane it is much quicker & easier if you have your own as often any materials used need to be replaced or paid for.
It is the responsibility of every adult and student to ensure they are vigilant and alert to health and safety & welfare issues.