Millions of students will head back to school over the next few weeks and tens of thousands of school buses and parents will be on the roads. Its crucial that all motorists understand how to safely share the roads with school buses, pedestrians, and bicyclists. It is also a good time for parents and children to talk about how to stay safe at school.
When you cannot be with your kids, make sure they always, always know how to reach you. Just knowing you are a phone call away and can come home in the case of an emergency or serious situation can provide an older child with peace of mind and confidence in your absence. For younger children, you will want to think about after school care. If you are working when the kids come home from school, and don’t have a spouse or caregiver either at home or already lined up, you will need to think about whom will care for your kids until you get home.
Many working parents have the same caregiver whether it’s summer vacation or school year, but as kids get older, they may be ready to be at home alone for a couple of hours until you get home from work. According to many experts, most kids are not mature enough and responsible enough to be left alone until they are at a minimum of 11-12 years of age. Again, you are the best judge of your kids’ comfort level and maturity. Talk to your kids and be sure that they would feel comfortable with being alone or being in charge of the younger ones for a couple of hours. If you have any doubts at all, it’s best to find someone to care for the kids until you get home. Here are some things to think about:
Traveling to and from School
Walking To School
Parents should walk or bike the route prior to school starting and look for any possible hazards the child may encounter and identify a safe place to go if the child needs help.
Stop, look and listen before crossing the street. Always cross at the crosswalk and obey traffic signals.
Walk or bike with a friend. It is safer and more fun with a buddy.
Go directly to school and directly home afterward.
Do not play in vacant fields or lots.
Stay on the sidewalk or bike path and do not take short cuts.
If someone approaches you or makes you feel uncomfortable, dont talk to them and keep walking or riding.
If a vehicle is following you, turn around and go the other direction.
Dont put your name on clothing, backpacks, books or lunch boxes that are visible to others.
If approached by a dog, do not run. Do not touch the dog. Stand still and tell the dog to go home. If the dog will not leave, slowly back away from the dog putting distance between him and you; then continue walking.
Biking To School
Bright colored clothing will make you more visible to drivers.
Always wear a bicycle helmet.
Backpacks should be tight on the upper back and not dragging on the rear tire.
Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
Ride on the right, going the same direction as traffic.
Use appropriate hand signals.
Know your bus number.
Stay in a group while waiting for the bus.
Do not play in the street. Stay on the sidewalk or grass.
Wait for the bus to completely stop before approaching it.
Look both ways before crossing the street to get on the bus. Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.
Stay seated while on the bus and keep hands and head inside the windows.
If someone offers you a ride, say NO.
A parent could be at the bus stop before and after school for extra safety.
For Parents Vehicle Traffic
Here are some simple reminders for drivers:
- Slow down and be especially alert in the residential neighborhoods and school zones
- Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully
- Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after school hours
- Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and dont talk or text while driving
· Give children right-of-way in crosswalks and school zones.
· Avoid backing your vehicle at schools.
· Children should exit to the right side of the vehicle.
· Do not leave until your child is completely on school property.
Reminder for your kids:
- They should cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old
- Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks
- Never run out into the streets or cross in between parked cars
- Make sure they always walk in front of the bus where the driver can see them
If your kids will be walking to school, or have to walk a few blocks to a bus stop, make sure you teach them to obey traffic signals and rules if they must cross streets with lights and crosswalks. Younger children need closer supervision, but this is a great time to start teaching those habits. By the time they walk by themselves to school or the bus stop, they will be confident in their ability to know what to do.
Have a relative, trusted neighbor or family friend designated to be the person who will pick your child up or meet them at the bus stop if you can’t be there. Make sure your child knows who that person is, too.
Have conversations with your kids about their day at school-what happened, who they had lunch with, what they are learning. Kids are not always forthcoming if there are any problems at school, and keeping lines of communication open and noticing any changes in behavior and/or grades can be big clues for you as the parent. Bullying has become a larger and larger problem now and the more you talk with your kids the better you are able to resolve any issue that may arise.
When kids are using the computer and the Internet for homework and school projects, monitor their time spent, and the websites they’ve visited. Use the parental controls on your system when available. There are some great programs out there that can help keep your kids away from questionable sites, and out of potentially unsuitable chat rooms or message boards. Cyberbullying is also on the rise, be aware of what your kids are doing while on the computer.
School can, and should be, fun and exciting for kids. They get to see their friends every day, learn new things, and spend time outside playing sports or other recreational activities as part of their school day.
But there are dangers, some bigger than others, that exist for children at school, on their way to or from school, and at after school activities. Armed with some knowledge and some planning, parents and children can be aware of the dangers and therefore be more prepared to avoid them, or deal with them as they happen.
Give your kids the tools, the safety knowledge and the resources to take care of themselves when you cannot be there, and parents and children alike can relax and enjoy the school year more!
Safety First, Safety Always!
Information provided by the National Safety Council and Safe Kids.Org
Today’s post is courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau