Heading back to school can be an exciting but stressful time for kids and parents alike. As a parent, you may wonder if your child will be safe in school — and with good reason.
While it’s true we now drill our children on how to face new dangers like mass shooters and parental deportation, we mustn’t forget to teach them the fundamental rules of safety that are still present every day. The Transportation Research Board reports 25,000 children are injured each year in designated school zones.
Your youngsters still need your help in reducing their risk of common commute injuries. Take the time to teach them the basic school safety tips we’ve provided below.
If your child will be walking to and from school, practice walking together before school starts to teach them the route to school and to review pedestrian safety tips like these:
- Stay on the Sidewalk. Never walk in the street. If there is no sidewalk available, walk on the shoulder of the road facing oncoming traffic (left side of the road).
- Before crossing streets, look left, right and left again for cars.
- Make Eye Contact. When crossing in front of a car at a crosswalk, make eye contact with the driver before stepping off the curb.
- Always cross the road at designated intersections and crosswalks. No jaywalking.
When your child prefers biking to school, ride with them before school starts. If you don’t have a bike, you can jog or follow your child in your car. The biking safety tips they need to know are:
- Ride single-file on the right side of the road, not on sidewalks.
- Come to a complete stop before crossing the street.
- Cross at crosswalks and intersections, just like pedestrians. Don’t cross until there is a “walk” signal. Walk your bike across the street rather than riding.
- Always wear a properly fitting bicycle helmet. No exceptions.
- Avoid distractions such as listening to music while biking.
- Review biking safety tips specific to NYC.
Pickup and Dropoff
For those youngsters you’ll be picking up and dropping off, there are a few safety measures even they can learn:
- Follow school zone speed limits and signage.
- Follow the school’s pickup and dropoff procedure.
- If children are crossing the street around you, make eye contact.
- Do not pass buses that are loading or unloading children.
Phone Down, Head Up
No matter how your child will get to school, it’s important to avoid distractions. Distracted walking is becoming a reportable issue. Teach your child not to look at his or her phone while walking, biking or driving to school.
Dealing with Bullies
Bullying happens when one child picks on another repeatedly. This can lead to physical injury, and also emotional problems such as low self-esteem or risk-taking behavior.
Make sure your child knows that bullying isn’t acceptable, and teach them what to do if they experience bullying.
Playground injuries cause many thousands of ER visits and a handful of deaths annually. Teach your child to use playground equipment properly, and observe the following safety tips:
- Avoid running on playground equipment
- Do not push other children
- Do not climb on the outside of the equipment
- Follow all playground rules, and if other kids aren’t following the rules, get off the equipment
If your child is in elementary or middle school, he or she will need supervision. For working parents, who don’t arrive home until after their children are out of school, arrange an after-school supervision program.
Decreasing the risks of back-to-school injury is as simple as taking the time to review these safety precautions. There will be plenty of other things to worry and stress over as your school-agers hit their strides this school year. Don’t let a preventable injury keep them from making this one of their best yet.