Back to School Safety (page 2)
The lazy days of summer have come to an end and it's time to prepare for the routine of the school year and after school activities. While many parents and children are looking forward to another year of learning and fun, back to school safety should be a priority for your family.
As millions of children head back to school, parents, teachers, and caregivers should look for and check hidden hazards in schools to help prevent injuries and deaths to children. Check your child's school, childcare facility and playground for hidden hazards.
Set a good example with your own actions - lock doors and windows and see who's there before opening the door.
Take time to listen carefully to your children's fears and feelings about people or places that scare them or make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts. If children complain about being "bullied" …take their complaint seriously.
Playgrounds - Check surfaces around playground equipment. Playgrounds should have 12-inch depths of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel, or safety-tested rubber or fiber mats to prevent head injury when a child falls. Each year, more than 200,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for playground-associated injuries. These injuries occur when a child falls from the equipment.
Drawstrings on Jackets and Sweatshirts - Remove drawstrings on hoods or around the neck. Cut drawstrings at the waist or bottom of jackets and sweatshirts to 3 inches. In the last 12 years, 22 children have died when drawstrings caught on school buses, playground equipment and other products.
Loops on Window Blind Cords - If the windows in your home, schools or facilities where your children spend time have blinds, be sure to cut the loop on two-corded horizontal blinds, and attach separate tassels to prevent entanglement and strangulation in window blind cords. Do not cut the loops on vertical blinds, continuous loop systems and drapery cords that use looped cords to function.. Instead, install a permanent tie-down device. Approximately one child a month dies from strangulation with window covering cords.
Bike Helmets - More and more kids ride their bikes to school. Make sure they always wear their helmet. All bike helmets manufactured or imported for sale in the U.S. are required to meet the new federal safety standards. Each year, more than 200 children are killed in bicycle-related incidents, and about 60 percent of these deaths involve a head injury. Helmet use can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent.
Soccer Goals - Anchor soccer goals into the ground to prevent them from tipping over and crushing a child. In the last 20 years approximately 24 deaths have been reported from soccer goal tip over.
Use This Checklist To Keep Your Children For This School Year:
- Teach your child to memorize his/her home phone number and address, your work number, the number of another trusted adult … with area codes and how to use 911 for emergencies. Be sure kids know to call 9-1-1 or "O" in emergencies and how to use a public phone. Practice making emergency calls with a make-believe phone. Be sure your child has enough change or carries a phone calling card to make a phone call.
- EVERYONE who gets into a car must be properly restrained in the vehicle. This includes seat belts and child restraint systems. All children riding bikes must wear helmets. It's the law!
- Plan and rehearse a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and use intersections with crossing guards. Test the route with your child. Tell him/her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields, and other places that are empty and don't have many people around.
- Make sure children walk to and from school with others - for example a friend, neighbor, or sibling.
- Whether walking, biking, or riding the bus to school, teach children to obey all traffic signals, signs, traffic officers, and safety patrols. Caution them to be extra careful in bad weather.
- When car pooling, drop off and pick up children directly in front of the school. Do not leave until they have entered the school yard or building. Make sure all car pool parents follow this important safety procedure.
- Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers. A stranger is anyone you or your children don't know, don't know well or don't trust. Tell them never to accept rides or gifts from someone they and you don't know well.
- Teach children to go to a store clerk, security guard, or police officer for help if lost in a mall or store or on the street.
Riding The Bus
For both children and parents, school bus safety is an important issue which is often overlooked. Everyone should know the traffic safety rules in their community. School bus transportation is safe. Yet, last year, approximately 26 students were killed and another 9,000 were injured in incidents involving school buses. More often than not, these deaths and injuries didn't occur in a crash. They occurred as students were entering and exiting the bus.
Remember these safety tips:
- Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to pick up children.
- Have a safe place to wait for your bus, away from traffic and the street.
- Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.
- When being dropped off, exit the bus and walk ten giant steps away from the bus.
- Keep a safe distance between you and the bus. Remember that the bus driver can see you best when you are back away from the bus.
- Use the handrail to enter and exit the bus.
- Stay away from the bus until the driver gives his/her signal that it's okay to approach.
- Never walk behind the bus.
- Be aware of the street traffic around you. Drivers are required to follow certain rules of the road concerning school buses, however, not all do. Protect yourself and watch out!
- Teach children to get in the habit of looking around them before they get on and off the bus, so they don't forget anything.
- Teach children that it is important for the bus driver to know where they are at all times.
- When boarding or getting off the bus, children should be aware of book bag straps, or any other drawstrings that might be hanging from their clothes. These can easily get caught in doors or railings.
Getting To School By Car
- Most traffic crashes occur close to home.
- Safety belts are the best form of protection passengers have in the event of a crash.They can lower risk of injury by 45%.
- You are four times more likely to be seriously injured or killed if ejected from the vehicle in a crash.
- Everyone needs to be buckled up properly. That means older kids in seat belts, younger kids in booster seats and little kids in child safety seats.
Walking and Biking to School
If your kids don't get to school by car or bus, they still need to be protected. There are many situations and dangers while walking to and from school. Here are a few basic safety tips to follow:
- Obey all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard.
- Never cross the street against a light, even if you don't see any traffic coming.
- Walk your bike through intersections.
- For children walking to school, plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings. Use intersections with crossing guards. Rehearse the route with your child. Tell him/her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren't many people around.
- Teach children - whether walking, biking, or riding the bus to school - to obey all traffic signals, signs, traffic officers and safety patrols. Remind them to be extra careful in rainy, foggy or other inclement weather.
- Make sure they walk to and from school with others …always have a buddy.
- Wear reflective material...it makes you more visible to street traffic.
Bicycle riding is a popular activity for children. Obeying rules and regulations when riding bikes is critical to children's safety. Each year, more than half a million cyclists end up at the doctor's office or emergency room due to bike crashes. Teach children to:
- Wear a helmet. Studies prove that wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce head injuries by up to 85%. Choose a helmet that fits snugly and comfortably. Parents should always wear a helmet to set a good example.
- Look both ways. Many car-bicycle crashes occur at driveways and other intersections. Children should walk his/her bike across busy streets, at corners and crosswalks.
- Wear light-colored and close-fitting clothes that make them more visible. By wearing these clothes they can avoid being caught in the bike's moving parts. They should never carry books in their hands while biking. Books and other loose items should be fixed to a properly installed carrying device or placed in a backpack.
- Obey the rules of the road. This includes traffic signs, signals, and road markings.
- Ride only in safe places such as parks, school grounds, bike trails, and sidewalks.
- Riding is best where there is little traffic and there is adult supervision.
- Be careful if bike riding at night. If an older child is permitted to ride at night, be sure that he/she wears reflective clothing or materials (especially on ankles, wrists, back, and helmet), he/she rides in areas that are familiar and on streets that are brightly lighted, and his/her bike has a headlight and front and rear reflectors.
- Always lock a bicycle securely … even if it's just for a few minutes. U-locks secure both wheels and the frame to a stationary object (such as a post, fence, tree, or bike rack.) For extra security, add a chain or cable with a good padlock. Record the bike's serial number and keep it in a safe place together with the sales receipt and a photograph of the bike. Mark the bike with an engraver. This helps police in identifying and returning your stolen bike.
Are Your Children Ready To Be Home Alone?
Many families have both parents working. Other children come from single-parent families where that parent must work. Ask yourself if your children are ready to be alone after school.
- Stay alone without being afraid?
- Follow rules and instructions?
- Be trusted to go straight home after school?
- Easily use the telephone, locks, and kitchen appliances?
- Handle unexpected situations without panicking?
Teach "Home Alone" Children
- To always check in with you or a neighbor immediately after arriving home.
- How to call 9-1-1, or your area's emergency number, or call the operator.
- How to give directions to your home, in case of emergency.
- Never to accept gifts or rides from people they don't know or don't know well.
- How to use the door and window locks, and the alarm system if you have one.
- To never let anyone into your home without asking your permission.
- To never let a caller at the door or on the phone know that they're alone. Teach them to say "Mom can't come to the phone (or door) right now."
- To always carry their house key with them in a safe place. Never leave it under a mat or on a ledge outside the house.
- How to escape in case of fire. Rehearse scenarios so they know what to do and won't panic.
- Not to go into an empty house or apartment if things don't look right- a broken window, a ripped screen, or opened door.
- To let you know about anything that frightens them or makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Make sure your children are old enough and mature enough to care for themselves.
- Basic safety rules.
- Know where your kids are, what they're doing, and who they're with.
- Check on state laws about the age at which children can be left at home alone.
- Agree on rules for inviting friends over and for going to a friend's house when no adult is home.
- Take time to listen carefully to children's fears and feelings about people or places that scare them or make them feel uneasy. Tell them to trust their instincts. Take complaints about bullies and other concerns seriously. Talk to your school administrators and/or pediatrician for advice and support.
- Kids are naturally curious. Be sure to talk to them about the deadly consequences of guns, medicines, power tools, drugs, alcohol, cleaning products, and inhalants. Keep these items in a secure place out of sight and locked up.
- Make sure your child checks in with you or a neighbor immediately after school.
- Set up rules and procedures for locking doors and windows, answering the door or telephone. Be sure to rehearse these procedures.
- Agree on rules for inviting friends over and for going to a friend's house when no adult is home.
What Would Your Child Do If...
- He/she were lost at a shopping mall or at a large gathering such as a carnival?
- Someone they knew wanted to play a game and keep it secret?
- A friendly stranger offered him/her a ride home after school?
Kids are trusting by nature. With parents finding it difficult to teach children to balance trust with caution, parents should teach kids keeps them safe and how to handle dangerous situations.
At School And Play
- Urge your children to walk and play with their friends. Tell them not to play or walk alone, and stay away from places that could be dangerous, such as vacant buildings, alleys, etc.
- Work out safe routes to and from school, stores, and friends' houses. Walk the routes together and show them places they could go for help.
- By teaching children to settle arguments with words, not fists you are creating safety and non-violence. Teach them to walk away when others are arguing. Let them know that teasing can hurt friends and make enemies - and even hurt them.
- Urge kids to be alert. If they see something that doesn't seem right they should tell a trusted adult.
- Check out daycare and after-school programs. Ask about certifications, staff qualifications, rules on parent permission for field trips, reputation in the community, parent participation, and policies on parent visits.
- Check out the school's policies on absent children. Are parents called when a child is absent?
Bullying can be a serious problem for kids. It is one of the most minimized and persistent problems in our schools today. The sad thing is - it's a reality for all children, whether they're victims, witnesses, or they're the bullies.
Children are born into the world innocent - without defenses. Another child or an adult comes along who is a product of abuse, rage, or being a 'bully' victim and the cycle continues. Whether it's at school or at home, anyone who is bullied will very often feel depressed and have low self-esteem. And if you're a bully, you are more likely to be hostile and antisocial.
Bulling can cause serious problems which tend to be ignored by adults. Anyone can be the target of bullying. A typical victim is usually shy, sensitive, and perhaps anxious or insecure. Sometimes children are picked on for physical reasons such as being overweight or too short, having a disability, or belonging to a different race or religious faith.
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