Back to School Safety Checklist for Kids and Teens August 4, 2022
The new school year is nearly upon us, which means now is the perfect time for parents and caregivers to brush up on some important back to school safety topics. Every year, the National Safety Council (NSC) compiles a list of useful tips on how families with children can keep their loved ones safe and healthy throughout the school year. To learn how you protect your child this school year, browse through the list of safety topics we assembled from the NSC below.
School Safety Topics
When it comes to back-to-school safety, there are several important issues to address. Kids and teens sustain school-related injuries in a variety of different scenarios. According to the NSC, there are a few key topics that are crucial for kids and their parents to discuss. Having these important conversations not only educates children on what types of dangers to watch out for, but also helps to reduce preventable – and sometimes even fatal – injuries from happening.
Safety Tips for Walking to School
If your child walks to school, it is important to establish a set of rules beforehand. Make sure to sit down and talk about the following:
- Always be alert and avoid distracted walking. This means not using your cell phone (talking, texting, fiddling with music, playing games, etc.) and not engaging in any type of activity or behavior that takes your attention away from your surroundings
- Whenever possible, walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk available, walk facing traffic
- Before crossing the street, stop and look left, right, and left again to make sure that no vehicles or cyclists are coming
- Make eye contact with drivers before you cross the street
- Always cross the street at a designated intersection or crosswalk
Safely Riding the Bus
Approximately 23 million elementary and secondary school children ride the bus to school each day. Before they take the bus, discuss, and practice some basic safety rules with your child. The NSC says that bus riders should always:
- Know how to properly enter and exit the bus, including in case of an emergency
- Stand six feet (or three “giant” steps) away from the curb
- If crossing the street in front of a bus, walk on the side of the road until you are 10 feet ahead of the bus. This way, the child and bus driver will be able to see one another
Driving Your Child to School
Some children walk to school, others bike or take the bus, and some hitch a ride with their parents, siblings, or caregivers. Car accidents kill tens of thousands of people each year and injure millions more. Most of these accidents are preventable, but not unless drivers pledge to:
- Stay alert and avoid all distractions
- Ensure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seat belt
- Obey school zone speed limits
- Follow your child’s school drop off procedures
- Never pass a bus that is loading or unloading children
- Make eye contact with children who are crossing the street
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is one of the most dangerous places for children to be. Stop far enough behind the bus to allow kids to safely enter and exit it
Biking to school is great exercise and can help bolster your child’s independence, but it is accompanied by a few risks that are important to chat about. Before your child bikes to school alone, practice the route with them. Here are some other ways you can teach your child about the rules of the road and how to bike safely:
- Come to a complete stop before crossing a street. Instead of biking across the street, walk across
- Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and in a single-file line
- Always be alert. Avoid distracted riding
- Wear a properly fitted helmet and bright, easy-to-spot clothing
Tragically, the NSC reports that car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens. You can take the following steps to reduce preventable accidents:
- Inexperience is a top contributor to teen traffic crashes. Practice driving with new drivers every week, and continue practicing even after they get their license
- Be a good example for your teen. Model positive behaviors and actions when you are behind the wheel
- Talk about the dangers of distracted driving, drowsy driving, aggressive driving, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and other unsafe and illegal driving activities
- Sign the New Driver Deal, a safety agreement that clarifies what the expectations between parents and their teen drivers are. To access the New Driver Deal, please visit: https://www.nsc.org/driveithome/new-driver-deal.
Even backpacks come along with some potential hazards. When picking out a backpack for your child, make sure to choose one with ergonomic design features that enhance both your child’s physical safety and comfort. Here are some other tips for avoiding preventable backpack-related injuries:
- Ask your child to use both straps when wearing their backpack. This helps to distribute weight across their shoulders evenly
- Do not overstuff the backpack. A backpack should weigh no greater than 5% to 10% of your child’s body weight
- Use rolling backpacks with caution. These backpacks create a slip, trip, and fall hazard in school hallways, lunchrooms, and classrooms
Playground and Sports Safety
Plenty of kids and teens play sports. Minor playground and sports-related injuries, like bumps, bruises, and scrapes, are bound to happen. But it is extremely important to take steps to guard against certain types of severe injuries. For example, to reduce strangulation dangers, the NSC recommends making your child leave all necklaces and jackets with drawstrings at home. If your child was playing sports or took a bad fall and sustained a head injury, it is important to check for symptoms associated with a concussion or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Here are some common symptoms of head injuries to watch out for:
- Disorientation and confusion
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Memory problems
- Lack of coordination
If you believe your child may have a concussion or a traumatic brain injury, it is advisable to seek medical care right away.
We all know that the weeks leading up to the new school year can be an overwhelming and hectic time, but they also mark your child’s growth and progress as they enter the next grade. To ensure that your child has the best chance at a seamless transition into the upcoming school year, take a few minutes to go over these important useful safety topics together.
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