It’s that time again. The summer days are fading and children are eagerly collecting their supplies for another year of school. While most parents are thinking about haircuts, shoes, and classroom supplies, there are some very important back to school safety concerns that many may take for granted. According to the National SAFE Kids Campaign, an estimated 2.2 million children under the age of fourteen are unintentionally injured in school- related accidents each year.
Traveling to and from school
Kids who walk or bike to school should follow a route that has been planned and practiced prior to the first day of school and should know and follow all traffic safety rules. Remember that there is safety in numbers. Children should follow the same route as other walkers and bikers in the neighborhood and avoid wandering off on the path less traveled.
Children who take the bus should arrive at the bus stop with time to spare so they are ready and waiting when the bus arrives. Parents may want to walk with them the first few days. This will provide an opportunity to observe the behavior of other children at the bus stop as bullies tend to pick their “marks” in times when they know they will be unsupervised.
Parents who drive to school should pick up and drop kids off as close to the school as possible. If parking in the street is required, they should park as close to designated cross walks and crossing attendants as possible so children aren’t required to weave through parked cars or cross the street alone.
On the playground
Parents have the right to inspect playground equipment for safety. Issues should be brought to the attention of school administrators. It is also important to know the child to adult ratio on the playground to insure that proper supervision is provided. Children should be taught playground etiquette and cautioned to avoid children who rough house or play unsafely. It’s important to dress children for playground safety. Pullovers and sweatshirts with drawstrings around the neck can be hazardous on the playground as they can snag on the equipment. Ill fitting or untied shoe laces can also cause accidents.
We hear more and more on the news about childhood injuries caused by the heavy loads placed in backpacks. For this reason, several companies have developed lines of ergonomically designed packs that offer lumbar support and reduce the risk of injury.
Children should have guidelines for coping with bullies. They need to understand that walking away is the best policy. They should not fear telling parents or teachers when another child is treating them poorly or threatening to harm them.
Outdoor Activity Days
Pay close attention to the notices that come home from school and mark dates like field trips and outdoor days on the calendar. When these days arrive, parents should make sure children are dressed to prevent sunburn, have plenty of water to keep hydrated, and have access to current contact information for parents, caretakers and the school in the event they become separated from their class.