5 Suggestions to keep Your Children Safe as They Return to School
As your children head back to class this fall, please spend some time talking about ways they can stay safe when getting to and from their school. The need for a “safety” discussion applies whether your children walk to school or ride a bus.
1. Watch for Speeding Cars in School Zones and Near Sidewalks.
Despite clear signage and flashing lights, many drivers plow right through school zones at high speed, not watching for pedestrians. They may not realize the distance needed to stop, even at low speeds:
At 20 miles an hour, you need more than 25 feet. Drivers may have become accustomed to school being out of session for the summer and not having to slow down this fall. Thus, make certain that lights and crosswalk signs are in the children’s favor before stepping out to cross the street.
Children must use extreme caution around traffic, even while not at crosswalks. Unfortunately, many sidewalks leading to and from schools place children close to passing traffic. In such circumstances, it is best to walk as far from the road as possible. In addition, when possible, walk “facing” oncoming traffic that is next to a sidewalk. That way, if a driver is distracted or veering toward the sidewalk, children may have an opportunity to avoid an incident.
2. Stay Away From Strangers Along the Route
This may seem like common sense “stranger danger” discussion. However, unfortunately, child predators know full well when it is back to school time. This provides the opportunity to offer a child a ride, to offer help crossing a street, to offer a snack, or a host of other potentially dangerous situations. These should all be avoided in the event your children do not know the individual. Also, when possible, children should not walk to or from school alone. Always walk with a buddy or parent.
3. Stay Safe when Riding the Bus
Every school day, approximately 25 million students across the country start and end their day on a school bus. Riding the bus is much safer than walking or riding in the family car, but getting to school by bus still poses its share of danger.
While on the bus, if seatbelts are available and fit your children, advise them to use the belts appropriately. If, like on most school buses, there are no seatbelts, advise your children to remain in their seats facing forward. This will help them take advantage of the “compartmentalization” offered by bus seating in the event there is an unfortunate incident.
Children walking to and waiting at bus stops encounter some of the same lead-footed drivers as in school zones. When your children are standing or sitting at a bus stop, advise them to stay well clear of the roadway and passing traffic.
Getting on and off the bus also can be dangerous if the driver can’t see your child. Make sure your child knows to:
- Stay out of the street while waiting for the bus.
- Wait until the bus fully stops and the doors open before going near.
- Hold onto the handrail when getting on or off the bus.
- Move to the sidewalk immediately after getting off the bus.
4. Be Careful Around Railroad Tracks
Scout whether your children’s walking route to school will require them to cross over railroad tracks. If they will cross tracks, extreme caution should be exercised.
For some reason, walking on railroad tracks has always held an attraction for kids. But walking on tracks is extremely dangerous:
Doing so kills about 1,200 people every year in the United States.
Make sure your child understands the danger of walking on tracks. Trains move at high rates of speed. And they take a long time to stop.
By the time your child hears the train, it may be too late to get out of the way.
5. Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Way to and from School
Certainly, there are dangers present for any child on the way to and from school. But, with the right instruction and some vigilance, every child should also enjoy the journey, take in the weather, get to know the neighborhood, and take advantage of just being a kid!