Keeping Safety in Mind as Everyone Heads Back to School This Fall
Back-to-school time is almost here. Are you and your kids ready to stay safe?
August is National Back-to-School Safety Month in the United States, and the National Safety Council offers a number of recommendations to help your family make a safe transition from the lazy days of summer. As you start shopping for school supplies and getting the kids ready to head off to school, don’t forget that a little preparation can also go a long way toward preventing injuries and accidents. Here are some important things to keep in mind and talk with your kids about before classes are in session again.
Getting to and From School
Traffic is one of the biggest dangers at any time of year, but back-to-school time means more vehicles and pedestrians on the road—especially during morning drop-offs and when school gets out in the afternoon. No matter how you and your children get back and forth to school, make sure you know how to do it safely.
Before the first day of school, practice walking to and from school with your children. Make sure they know that they should pay attention to the road and the people around them on the sidewalk—and that means not “texting and walking” or being too focused on other distractions. Remind them that, when walking, you should:
- Always walk on sidewalks. If there aren’t any sidewalks, you should walk on the side of the road facing traffic.
- Always use designated crosswalks.
- Always stop, look, and listen before crossing any streets—even if you are at a crosswalk. Don’t dart into traffic or try to cross from in between parked cars or other obstacles that may keep drivers from seeing you.
If it’s a little further between school and home, your child may be planning to hop on his or her bike to make the journey. Make sure that your kids:
- Wear a helmet that fits right. To protect you, a helmet should fit and be secured properly. And, of course, a helmet can’t protect you if you don’t wear it.
- Understand how to ride right. Go over the rules of the road for bikes with your child, such as riding single file on the right with the flow of traffic or walking a bike across street at crosswalks.
School buses may be a common sight on the road when classes are in session, but these huge vehicles can be a danger to children, pedestrians, and drivers who don’t understand the rules. Whether you often share the road with buses or have a child who rides the bus to school, check out these tips for being safe around school buses.
Teens often drive themselves to school or catch a ride with driving-age friends, and the safety issues they face are often very different from those faced by younger children. Here are some things you should talk about with your teen before he or she gets behind the wheel or hops in with a friend:
- Make a “no phones” rule, and talk about driver distraction.
- Talk about drugs and alcohol.
- Explain the importance of always wearing a seatbelt.
Make sure your teen understands your other household rules for driving safely, such as limiting passengers or not driving at night.
For kids who are old enough to spend an hour or two at home alone before Mom and Dad get home from work, it’s important to talk about staying safe. While you don’t want your children to be afraid, you do want them to be careful. Here are some topics you might want to cover:
- Keep doors locked, and talk about what to do if a stranger comes to the door.
- Remind children not to tell people on the phone that there are no adults at home.
- Go over your other rules for doing the right thing when parents aren’t at home.
On the Playground
Injuries at school are surprisingly common, even though schools and teachers usually do their best to prevent problems. However, many of these accidents take place on the playground, and many of them are preventable with a little care. Make sure that your child understands how to use playground equipment safely, and check to see if the playgrounds your child frequents have soft surfaces to help protect kids. Young children should always be supervised by adults when using playground equipment.
While Wearing a Backpack
Children can develop back and shoulder injuries related to backpack use, so make sure that you help your child:
- Pick a backpack that fits comfortably and features an ergonomic design.
- Avoid filling the backpack too full or making it too heavy.
- Always use both straps to evenly distribute the weight.
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