Now that summer’s on its way out for the new school year, it’s time to get the kids ready. Beyond getting school supplies and your children’s schedule squared away, there are a number of things you can do to ensure their safe return to the classroom.
Whether your children walk, ride their bikes, take the bus, or ride with you in the car, there are some basic reminders that will help keep them safe.
For younger children, it’s a good idea to walk with them to and from school until you feel comfortable they know the way. If there are other kids in the neighborhood who take the same route, you can organize a “walking bus” to share the supervision load with other parents. Remind children to remain on the sidewalk, cross only at marked crossing areas or where there are adult crossing guards, and to stay alert for cars.
If your children haven’t taken the bike route before or they are inexperienced bicyclists, practice the trip with them a few times before school starts to make sure they can do so safely. You make your children wear their bike helmets when they ride – it’s the law – so you wear one, too, to be a good influence. When biking, stay to the right with the flow of traffic and remain in bike lanes when available; obey all traffic signs. Teach your kids the old-school hand signals: left arm straight out to signal a left turn; left arm bent upward ninety degrees at the elbow to signal a right turn; left arm bent downward ninety degrees at the elbow to signify a stop.
Show your children where the bus stop is and remind them to remain well back of the curb as the bus approaches. Once the bus has fully stopped, wait until the door is open before boarding. When crossing, make sure your children do so in front of the bus, can see the driver and that the red “stop” lights are flashing. If the bus has safety belts, remind your children to wear one, even if other kids do not. And to make things easier on the bus driver, stress the importance of “no horseplay” on the bus; this will cut down on distractions.
Making a Home Safety Plan
Once the kids are settled in, it’s a good idea to either formulate a home safety plan or to review one you’ve already established. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, especially inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
- Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.
- Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. Stress to your children that they are never to go back inside for anyone or anything, including pets and stuffed animals. Local Red Crosser Steve Eberlein made a one-minute video that shows his children practicing their emergency plan. You can also view a recent blog post in which Eberlein addresses the concerns young children have by going to Could You and Your Family Escape? and scrolling halfway down.