As summer vacation fades in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a quick look at some ways to make sure all children are as safe as possible as we head into the new school year. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, more than 2 million children under the age of 14 are injured each year while at school. Here are 6 tips for helping keep kids safe as school goes back into session.
1. Make them a Map
Determine which specific routes to and from school and after school activities are acceptable for your child to use and then walk those routes with them. This is important whether they are walking, riding a bike, riding a scooter, or travelling by any other means. Mapping out acceptable routes ahead of time helps keep your child safe in several ways. First, they won’t be taking short cuts that require crossing busier roads or expose them to unnecessary dangers. Second, you will always know where to look for them if they are running late or do not arrive somewhere as expected. Mapping out more than one route ensures they have a back-up in case there is an emergency or detour.
2. Watch for Walkers
When school is in session, there are more children walking on sidewalks and crossing streets. Drivers need to be aware of where schools are located on their normal commutes and pay attention to school zone signs and speed limit changes. Pay extra attention whenever there are children walking, running, playing, or waiting to cross.
3. Remind Kids about the Rules
For the first few weeks of school, parents need to remind their children about important safety rules. Talking about important safety topics like looking both ways before going into the street, using crosswalks, paying attention to what’s happening around them, and avoiding strangers will help make it a safe school year.
4. Practice Prevention
With children, many of the most common serious injuries are also the most preventable. Make sure that children who ride their bikes to school are wearing a helmet. If your child is going to ride a scooter or skateboard back and forth each day, provide the appropriate safety gear to protect heads, wrists, and knees and instill the importance of wearing it every time.
5. Create a Contact List
It is important that any school age child knows basic contact information like their home phone, parent cell phone, and home address. It is also a good idea to create an emergency contact list for them that can be kept in their backpack. This may include additional phone numbers of grandparents, babysitters, or friend’s houses. Additionally, make sure your child knows when and how to call 911 if there is an emergency.
6. Promote Safe Play
Children are injured everyday just by being children. Running, jumping, and playing often leads to scrapes, bruises, and bumps. While this is a normal part of being a kid, parents can help protect their children from serious injuries and limit the number of minor ones by promoting safe play practices. Check out the school’s playground and talk to the school administration about any safety concerns you see. If the playground isn’t up to par, raise money to build a new one. Talk to your child about how to play as safely as possible and what kinds of behavior can cause injury.