The end of summer can be a hectic time, with families returning from holidays and children going back to school. Before new school-year routines become habit, it’s important to identify key areas where you can help keep your entire family safe and healthy. Here are some school-year safety tips you can begin implementing right away.
Walking to school safety tips
- Walk your child to school (or make alternate arrangements) if you feel they don’t have the necessary skills to walk alone, or are younger than 10.
- Ensure your child is very familiar with the route to and from school, and that they don’t take shortcuts.
- Teach your child proper safety for crossing the street: stopping, looking both ways, and only crossing at proper intersections.
- Make sure your child obeys any crossing guards on their route.
- If there is no sidewalk on your route, ensure your child knows to walk facing traffic so that they can see cars coming.
- Try to dress your child in bright colors or lighter shades so that they are extra visible to drivers.
- Walking to school with other children can help increase your child’s safety.
- Teach your child never to talk to strangers, approach their car, or accept rides. Many families implement a password system to ensure that their child can identify trusted adults.
- However, in certain emergency situations, talking to a stranger may be necessary. Help your child identify “safe” adults, such as uniformed police officers, other parents, or crossing guards.
Driving to school safety tips
- Your child may have hit a growth spurt over the summer, so double-check that they are still using the appropriate car seat or booster seat.
- Enact a rule that the car doesn’t move until everyone has their seat belt buckled.
- Ensure that your child enters and exits the car on the curb side of the street, or assist your child if they need to enter and exit on the traffic side.
- Pick up and drop off your child as close to their school as possible. When dropping them off, ensure they are inside the schoolyard or building before you leave.
- Be aware of school zone speed limits, and watch out for children who may dart out from between parked cars. Be prepared to stop suddenly if necessary.
Riding the school bus safety tips
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly two-thirds of school-age children who were fatally injured in school transportation-related crashes were struck by vehicles while getting off their school bus. The NHTSA recommends you teach your child the “SAFE” acronym, which stands for:
- Stay five steps away from the curb.
- Always wait for the bus driver to tell you when to board.
- Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
- Exit the bus when it stops, look left-right-left, and take five steps away from the bus toward the curb.
Safety tips at school
The following tips will help to keep your child healthy and safe once they have arrived at school.
- Don’t label your child’s clothing or backpack with their name in a visible location.
- Depending on the age of your child, ensure they know their full name, their address, your full name, and how to reach you. It can also be useful for them to know the name and contact info of a trusted neighbor or family member.
- Discover and familiarize yourself with the emergency procedures in place at your child’s school.
- A child’s backpack should not weigh more than 10 percent of your child’s weight, and should be carried on both shoulders.
- If possible, inspect the playground facilities at your child’s school. Ensure that there are no areas where your child could trip, get cut, hit their head, fall, or play unsupervised.
- Teach your child the basics of playground safety, such as no running while on the equipment, ensuring they hold on to any hand or guardrails, and to watch out for other children.
- Dress your child appropriately for the weather conditions. This may involve sending an extra sweater or rain boots to school with your child.
- If your child’s school doesn’t provide access to a refrigerator, ensure that any packed lunches or snacks will not spoil during the day.
For more school-year safety tips, speak with your child’s teachers to get advice and useful tips on helping to keep your child safe and healthy.