Sleepovers and parties: loads of fun, lots of opportunity for injuries

Birthday Event

Sleepovers and birthday parties are popular ways for kids to celebrate a special occasion. Without proper planning, however, a festive event can turn unpleasant quickly. Here’s one example of what can go wrong. Due to unsupervised roughhousing at a sleepover, one child was severely hurt, suffering a displaced clavicle fracture. Utilizing the following recommendations, the facility owners might have prevented the accident:

  • Require signed waivers from all participants.
    • List specific activities on the waiver.
    • Keep the signed waivers for two years or more.
    • Consult with your attorney on wording, laws, and your state’s statute of limitations.
  • Inspect your facility before and during the party, regularly. Remove any trip and fall hazards. Ensure floor and mat surfaces are clean and dry; tape down mat edges. Lock or cordon off areas and equipment that are off-limits.
  • Designate a location to congregate at the start of the event. Account for all participants, set the ground rules, review the agenda, and specify off-limits areas and equipment. It’s also helpful to list these rules on a document, signed by participants and parents.
  • Maintain proper supervision ratios. At Markel, we require a minimum student-to-adult ratio of 8:1. Ensure that no instructor or parent is left alone with children.
  • Explain your supervision policy to parents. Be sure to include the disciplinary actions that will result when kids don’t comply and include this information in your list of rules.
  • Watch for mischievous adults. Being young at heart is great, but acting on it can lead to very serious injuries.
  • Keep activities simple. Don’t let a skilled student display highly technical activities, creating the temptation for others to follow and likely resulting in an injury.
Birthday Event
This document is intended for general information purposes only, and should not be construed as advice or opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. The content of this document is made available on an “as is” basis, without warranty of any kind. This document can’t be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedures or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. Markel does not guarantee that this information is or can be relied on for compliance with any law or regulation, assurance against preventable losses, or freedom from legal liability. This publication is not intended to be legal, underwriting, or any other type of professional advice. Persons requiring advice should consult an independent adviser. Markel does not guarantee any particular outcome and makes no commitment to update any information herein, or remove any items that are no longer accurate or complete. Furthermore, Markel does not assume any liability to any person or organization for loss of damage caused by or resulting from any reliance placed on that content.

*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.
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