Volunteerism has been growing in popularity over the past decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were almost 2 million volunteer jobs available in 2012.
But what happens when you volunteer? What precautions should you take to ensure your safety?
Here are some tips to help you stay safe when volunteering.
1. Know the Organization Before Joining Them
Before joining an organization, do some research about the group. Find out whether the organization is reputable, what its mission is, and where it gets its funding.
Ask questions such as: How often does the organization conduct training sessions for volunteers? Do they provide any kind of insurance coverage for volunteers? Are volunteers required to undergo background checks?
2. Be Prepared
When you join an organization, ask for information about the organization’s policies regarding emergency situations, medical emergencies, and evacuation procedures. If possible, find out what type of training the organization provides for volunteers.
Make sure you understand the organization’s policies and procedures for dealing with emergencies, and follow them closely.
3. Make Sure That Volunteers Follow Safety Procedures
Find out whether the organization requires volunteers to sign liability waivers. Ask if volunteers are required to wear identification badges.
Be aware of the risks involved in working with children, animals, or hazardous materials. Also, know the organization’s rules and regulations regarding firearms and weapons.
4. Get Proper Training
Many organizations offer training programs for volunteers. Some require volunteers to attend classes before they begin their service. Others may require volunteers to complete online training courses.
Some organizations may require volunteers to go through additional training after they’ve started working with children, animals or hazardous materials.
5. Don’t Overdo It
Don’t try to do too much during one shift. Volunteer services are usually limited to a specific number of hours per week.
Also, don’t volunteer for every opportunity that comes along. Choose carefully so you don’t burn yourself out.
6. Take Care of Yourself
Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Eat well, exercise regularly, and rest enough.
If you’re feeling stressed, talk to your supervisor or counselor at the organization.
7. Report Any Problems Immediately
If you notice anything unusual or unsafe, report it immediately. Tell your supervisor or counselor about the situation.
If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, leave the situation immediately.
8. Keep Your Insurance Up To Date
Ensure that you keep your health insurance up to date. This way, if something happens, you can receive treatment without worrying about paying for it.
9. Contact Local Law Enforcement
Contact local law enforcement if you see suspicious activity. Let them know what you saw.
10. Use Common Sense
Use common sense when volunteering. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations.
For example, avoid climbing ladders, operating heavy machinery, or driving vehicles.
Remember that you are responsible for your own actions. If you make a mistake, you could get hurt.