Back to School Safety Tips

For many, August is Back-to-School month.

This means many families are working to pull together fall clothes and school supplies, and sorting through transportation options.

During such a hectic month, be sure to keep a few safety tips in mind:

1.If your child rides a bike or scooter to school, be sure that he/she wears a properly fitted helmet. The helmet should fit snugly, be flat on top of the head and have a buckled chin strap. It should not move up and down or from side to side. Make sure to replace any helmets that have been in an accident. Helmets only do their job once!

2.Helmets belong on the head when riding a bicycle, but not when playing on a playground. Teach your child to take the helmet off before he or she plays on a playground. Bike helmets can get stuck in openings on playground equipment, causing a child to strangle.

3.One item that doesn’t belong near a child’s neck is a drawstring. So, look closely at your child’s jackets, “hoodies,” or sweatshirts to ensure there are no drawstrings in the upper portion of the garment. You also should take a look at waist or bottom drawstrings on your child’s jackets and other upper clothing. New regulations specify that you shouldn’t be able to see more than 3 inches of the string when the clothes are stretched wide.

CPSC has received 26 reports of children who died when the drawstring on their clothing became tangled on playground slides, school bus doors and other objects. Waist and bottom drawstrings have been caught in doors or other car parts resulting in dragging incidents.

4.When you are driving, 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, and enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.

5. Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after school hours, and reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and don’t talk or text while driving.

6. Children should cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old. Make sure children learn to cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks, and to never run out into the streets or cross in between parked cars. Make sure children always walk in front of the bus where the driver can see them.

7.Teach your child that all emergencies go through school officials, and not to leave with a stranger before checking with the school officials, or gaining permission directly from their parent. Children should report all suspicious behavior and “new adult friends” to trusted adults. Teach your children that if anyone bothers them, makes them feel scared or uncomfortable to trust their feelings and immediately get away from that person. Teach them it is ok not to be polite and that it is ok to say no.

8.Be proactive and make time to speak with your children about safety. Walk the route to school with your child to learn possible safety hazards, and to make sure the course has the least number of traffic crossings. Point out safe havens for children to run to if there is an emergency. Police or fire stations, hospitals, churches are good places a frightened child can run to for help. Make sure they understand to never take shortcuts and to stay in well-lit areas.

9.A study by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children of attempted abductions during the past five years found that children are at most risk when going to and from school or school related activities. If possible, supervise young children to help ensure safe arrival to and from school. Teach your children to always take a friend with them, and to stay in a group, especially when waiting for the bus. Make sure they know which bus is theirs.

10.Always know where your children will be. Teach your children to always check first before changing their plans before or after school. Teach your children to never leave school, with anyone unless they check first with you or another trusted adult, even if someone tells them it is an emergency.