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Student Organization Travel Safety Resources

Recognized student organizations travel for many great reasons: outdoor activities, conferences, social outings, community service, tours, and much more. It is however very important to remember that there are risks associated with these activities. With proper risk and safety management, your student organization can reduce the risks associated with travel and still have a great time!

Preparing for Travel

  • Book vehicles
  • Plan your schedule and develop a final itinerary
  • Develop a plan B for extreme weather events
  • Consult with your student organization advisor
  • Complete the necessary travel paperwork (see below)

Items to Bring Along

It is important to bring along as many supplies that are deemed essential for your particular trip including the emergency medical paperwork for each student, your planned itinerary, important phone numbers, and the contact information for a local hospital or first-aid station. Other essential items that may be necessary depending on the length and location of your trip may be:

  • Itinerary with important phone numbers and emergency medical paperwork
  • Cell phone/satellite phone
  • First-aid kit
  • Maps and/or directions
  • Personal flotation devices/Life jackets (if applicable)
  • Extra food and water
  • Bug spray and/or sunscreen (if applicable)
  • Any additional safety devices, equipment, or tools

ESF Specific Safety Considerations

Group Size/Leads: Members should plan a size limit per trip and per subgroups with group leaders who have additional expertise to keep track of members and their safety.

Trail Safety: Members should be evenly distributed with more expert hikers with a expert lead and tail. No student should be left alone. Proper hiking boots/footwear is a must. No one should hike above their comfort zone. Be sure enough food and water for the time that you are hiking/camping for is in consideration too. Be sure to make sure all members are in view, especially if you break into smaller groups. It is recommended that your organization take a wilderness first aid basics course to ensure safer practices while on your trips.

Camp Safety: Members should be safe in and around the campsites and/or cabins. Be aware of any open campfires, hot cooking surfaces, wood stoves, or wildlife.

Water Safety: It is recommended that everyone working around/on water should know how to swim prior to any associated activity. There are swim courses at Syracuse University that ESF students can register for. Members may also consider wearing personal flotation devices and/or waders, either hip or chest, complete with wading belt when fishing in water.

Proper gear: Members should always wear appropriate gear to their comfort and abilities. Equipment/gear should be checked for safety and usage by the equipment manager by the student organization on a regular, on-going basis.

Tools/equipment: Any activity involving physical labor and/or tools, such as for trail maintenance should be reviewed and used under the guidance of a trained person. It is also recommended to use items such as safety glasses, gloves, work boots (possibly even steel toed), long-pants, hard hats, etc. during this work.

Animal and Plant Hazards: Be sure to avoid any poisonous plants with good identification strategies. Be aware of ticks in wooded areas and campsites as they can be carriers of Lyme disease as well as any mosquito-borne illness. Be sure to do checks for ticks and use bug spray.

Treated Drinking Water: Be sure to pack enough water/supplies for your size group and take into consideration weather when on an outdoor trip with no access to clean drinking water. Treat water if accessing from outdoors by boiling, chemical treatment, or filters and follow directions associated with each method before drinking the water.

Guidance for Extreme Weather Events

To be prepared for your outdoor trip, be aware of the local weather patterns for your area as well as monitor the current weather forecasts and conditions and modify your trip if needed.

  • Plan ahead:
    • Check the weather before you leave and allow additional time to reach your destination
    • Take an alternate route to avoid the brunt of bad weather if you can
    • Postpone your trip until the weather is improved
    • Consider cancelling your trip and consult with Student Involvement and Leadership and your student organization advisor
    • Carry a map in case a route change is necessary
  • Develop a weather safety plan that your group is all aware of. Plan ahead by checking the weather for the area in which you are travelling to and consult with your student organization advisor regarding your plans.
  • In the event of extreme weather such as lightning, heavy rain, snow, ice, high winds, etc. seek shelter immediately such as through a building or a vehicle. Be sure every member of your group is accounted for and report to ESF. It is important to stay inside for 30 minutes after you hear the last rumble of thunder before resuming outdoor activities.

While Driving:

  • Drive more slowly than usual to avoid skids and accidents
  • Leave more room in front of you as a “cushion” when driving in rain, sleet, snow, or other inclement weather conditions
  • Make sure all equipment on your vehicle is in working order:
    • Have tires and brakes checked more frequently in winter months
    • Windshield wipers should work and headlights should be clean
    • Before leaving clear ice or frost from windshield and mirrors
    • If you need to pull over to scrape ice or snow, do so in a safe place
  • Use low beams in fog:
    • Turn on headlights (low beams only) in fog, night or day
    • Maintain a long following distance and drive slowly in fog
    • Avoid going over the center line into oncoming traffic – stay right
  • Listen to the radio for weather updates or alternate routes
  • Be sure you and your passengers wear your safety belts at all times
  • Pull over if you need to at a safe spot off the road and rest if you are tired or the weather gets particularly bad
  • If the bad weather involves snow or heavy rain, be sure you are not pulling over into a deep puddle or snow bank

Tips in Case of an Accident

  • If you are involved in an accident while driving, you must stop.
  • If anyone is hurt, you must get help by calling 911. Please also call ESF University Police at 315-470-6667.
  • Contact the appropriate law enforcement agency and request immediate assistance (dial 911)
  • Trade information with everyone involved in the accident:
    • Name, address, phone number of all drivers
    • Name, address, phone number of all passengers and/or witnesses
    • Driver’s license numbers and license plate numbers
    • Insurance companies of all drivers involved
    • Registered owners of all cars
    • Year, model, make, etc. of all cars involved
  • Do not discuss what happened with anyone but the police. Do not say it was your fault, and do not make accusations. Take your own notes of what happened if conditions allow and photos of the scene and vehicles if possible
  • Immediately report the accident to ESF University Police at 315-470-6667. You will also want to let your student organization advisor and Student Involvement and Leadership know after the emergency is taken care of.
  • If you have or suspect an injury, visit the doctor right away
  • Fill out an Incident Report Form and submit to Student Involvement and Leadership Office.

International Travel Process

Please work with the International Education Coordinator and Director of Student Involvement and Leadership at least 2 months in advance. Please see the International Travel Guidelines for further details.

Additional Training for Student Organization First Aid and Safety

First Aid, CPR, and AED: American Red Cross Hosts

Syracuse University First Aid and CPR/AED Courses

Bob Marshall Club

SUOC host specialty trainings throughout the year

SOLO Wilderness Training site

Center for Disease Control and Prevention site

ESF Boat Use Policy

Boy Scouts Safety website

Student Organization Travel Documents

Trip Notification and Waiver Form

Emergency Medical Paperwork

Student Involvement & Leadership Links

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Contact Us

110 Bray Hall is the place to go for information and assistance

Office Hours

  • Academic Year
    Monday- Friday 8am - 4:30pm
  • Summer
    Monday-Thursday 8am -4pm
    Friday 8am - Noon

Laura D. Crandall, MS
Director of Student Involvement & Leadership
110 Bray Hall
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY  13210
(315) 470-6658
ldcranda@esf.edu