school-safety-back-to-schoolBack-to-School Safety Tips

September is National Preparedeness Month so we’d like to bring you a few posts that will help get you and your family ready for the unexpected.

The American Red Cross is an excellent resource for information. We begin this brief series with Back-to-School safety tips.

As another school year begins, we offer steps that everyone can take to make the trip back to the classroom safer.

In Case of Emergency Call…
When kids go back to school, parents should make sure the child knows his or her home phone number and address, parents’ work contact information, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1.  If you believe your children are too young to retain this information, place a contact card in their back-pack and make sure it’s there each day.

Stranger Danger
Parents should also teach their children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know, a common practice among families is to create a password easy for your children to remember. If someone offers your child a ride, claiming Mom and/or Dad sent them, they must offer up that secret password in order to accept the ride. Instill in your children they are not to tell anyone the family password, that it is a secret, and no matter how well they know the person, the password must be given. Make it fun for the kids, let them choose the Password, especially since it will be something they’d be more likely to remember.

Bus Safety
If your children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive.

Other safety steps for students include:

  • Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed you to get on.
  • Only board your bus and never an alternate one.
  • Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  • Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.

Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean:

  • Yellow flashing lights — the bus is getting ready to stop, and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign — the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.

If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Yes, a strong lecture must be given about distracted driving; especially given the texting and driving epidemic.  There are Apps available that can be downloaded so that when your child’s cell phone is in motion (in a vehicle) it will automatically return any texts or answer any calls notifiying the incoming caller that the person they are trying to reach in driving.  This helps eliminate te temptation for your child to pick up the phone.

All drivers should be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones.

Biking and Walking
Students who ride their bike to school should always wear a helmet, obey all traffic signs and ride on the right in the same direction as traffic.

Those who walk to school should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards. Parents should walk young children and children taking new routes or attending new schools at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Thereafter, arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.

Consider taking a Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED course so you’ll have the knowledge and skills to act if an injury or emergency happens. You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App so you’ll always have first aid information at your fingertips. The app is available for both iPhone and Android devices.

While you may find the information in this article is intuitive, sometimes it’s helpful to have all this information in one place to review with your family.

Next week we will take a look at how to prepare your family for an emergency, from comprehensive preparedenss kits to creating a family disaster plan.

In the meantime, stay safe, we hope you will never need this advice.