Students are at greater risk traveling to and from school than any other time of the school day. Here’s how to develop a plan for safety.
As children head back to school this year, the biggest test they face may not be in the classroom, but on the journey to and from school. That’s why parents and caregivers are encouraged to teach and review important safety guidelines that will help children get back to school safely this fall.
Diana Jones, founder of the child safety stranger-danger program, RUN * YELL * TELL, Ltd., says, “Children must be prepared, as early as age four, with pro-active rules that will help keep them safe. If parents communicate this in a casual manner, the process doesn’t have to be scary.”
Walking to School
Encourage your children to walk to school in groups, remembering that children under 10 should never cross the street alone. Parents should choose the safest route to school, and practice walking it with their children before school begins and until the children demonstrate traffic safety awareness. Remind them to never take shortcuts. Always stick to routes selected by parents, and stay on main roads.
Be aware of “safe havens” along walking routes (police stations, fire stations, retail shops), which represent the “right” strangers from which to seek help in immediate danger.
On the Bus
While on the bus, children should always remain seated at all times. Remind them to talk quietly with their friends remembering not to shout or distract the driver unnecessarily. They should keep the aisles clear of backpacks and should keep their heads and arms inside the bus at all times. Teach your child to never reach under a school bus to get something that fell or rolled underneath.
Make sure to buckle your seat belt. Safety belts can lower your risk of injury by 45 percent. The National Safety Belt Coalition (www.nsc.org/traf/sbc.htm) has guidelines for wearing safety belts while riding in cars. Make sure you follow booster seat regulations. Follow weight guidelines as well as age guidelines. Don’t allow your child to tell you they are too “old” to sit in a car seat.
Ride with children under 12 in the back seat if the vehicle has a passenger air bag. A child should be tall enough to sit without slouching, with knees bent at the edge of the seat, and with feet on the floor to be able to safely wear a seat belt.
Park in designated spots when dropping off children at school. Do so even if it is not the most convenient spot.
Pedestrian-vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14. 1/4 of all children 14 years of age and younger who die in motor vehicle crashes are pedestrians! That means drivers need to step up safety around school zones, crosswalks, bus stops, and wherever children may be playing outside.
Be in the habit of becoming aware of where school zones and crosswalks are located on regular routes that you normally drive. Just a reminder—crossing guards are at many crosswalks to protect the children walking, obey their directions.
Always stop for school buses with flashing red lights, it’s your responsibility to come to a complete and full stop for the duration that the red lights are on.
Remember to obey the lower speed limits enforced in most school zones during school times or when children are present
Whether you’re driving your own kids or the whole neighborhood—don’t forget to “Be Car Care Aware”. That means it’s your responsibility to maintain your vehicle so you’re not stuck on the side of the road. Have your brakes checked at the earliest signs of problems and remember to check your tire pressure once a month.
Riding a Bike
Learning to obey the rules of the road may be your child’s first experience in obeying the law. Teach your child to obey all rules of the road, including traffic signs and signals. Have them walk their bike through intersections and look both ways before they cross the street. Tell your child that they must wear their helmet at all times while riding their bike. Give them a lock to lock their bike while at school. As with walking to school, arrange for your child to ride their bike with a group of friends.
More dangers confront children than ever before. Therefore, their safety is uppermost in our minds. But we can ensure children’s safety and still allow them to grow in their independence by teaching them some basic safety guidelines. Whether the issue is safe transportation to and from school or saying no to drugs, preparation can lead to prevention.
Stay in Touch
Always call the school if your child will be absent. Make sure the school knows how to contact you if your child does not show up. Valuable time in looking for a lost child can be saved if there is quick contact between the school and a parent
Tell your child how to contact you in a hurry. Give him your work phone number. Explain that she should leave detailed messages if there is an emergency. Teach your child how to call collect. Teach your child when and how to call 911.
Arrange for other parents to take your children in an emergency or if you are going to be late.#