It’s hard to wave goodbye to your children as they set off for another year in school. All you can do is hope that they stay strong, do their best, and try to learn as much as possible. But what many parents don’t realize is that the learning needs to begin before the shoes are tied and the lunches are made.
In an effort to help parents and kids avoid injuries at the end of summer, August has been designated Back-to-School Safety Month. Here just a few back-to-school safety tips to help your child avoid the most common types of school-related injuries:
- Choose the right backpack. Your child’s backpack should fit well, have shoulder and back padding, offer many compartments, and have at least some reflective material so he or she can be seen in the dark.
- Try it out. Have your child load his or her books and supplies in the backpack. If he or she hunches over, struggles to put it on, has shoulder pain or red marks on the skin, the load is probably too heavy.
- Remember the rules. Encourage your child to wear both straps, make multiple locker trips to lighten the load, and use his or her leg muscles when lifting or bending to pick up the backpack.
Walking to School Safety
- Plan your route. If your child walks to school, you can help keep him or her safe using information from the Safe Routes to School program. This initiative helps parents determine the safest sides of the road for their children to walk on, how to tell what age a child can walk to school by himself, and more. Once you have determined a route, make sure your child always walks the same way home in case he needs to be found quickly.
- Safe crossing. Teach your children to use crosswalks whenever possible if they need to cross the street. Everyone should know to look “left-right-left” before crossing and that they should stop talking to their friends while crossing the road.
- Review the rules. Make sure your child always walks on the sidewalk, and knows how to behave while crossing the road and walking between parked cars.
Riding a Bike to School
- Helmets on. All children who ride their bikes to school should have well-fitting helmets that are securely fastened and worn for every ride.
- Heads up! Discourage your children from wearing headphones or listening to music while riding their bikes. These are dangerous distractions that could cause a child to miss important traffic cues.
- Rules of the road. Make sure your children know the biking rules of the road. They should ride all the way to the right side of the street (with traffic), use proper hand signals, and always come to a complete stop at an intersection.
Riding the Bus
- Getting on and off. Teach your child the safest way to get on and off the bus, including standing six feet from the curb, waiting for the bus to stop completely, and using the handrail to climb the steps.
- No zones. The areas surrounding the bus cannot always be easily seen by the driver. Teach your child to keep 10 feet of space around the bus when crossing in front or in back of the bus, and both your child and the bus driver should be able to each other.
- Bus behavior. Children who are talking loudly, fighting, or singing on the school bus can cause distractions to a bus driver. Encourage your child to stay in his seat, keep his hands to himself, and talk quietly with the friends around him.
Want to help other parents protect their children? Consider sharing this article on Facebook to let other families know how to keep their kids whole and healthy in the coming school year.