Safety Tips for the Back-to-School Season
August 22, 2023
With the new school year nearly upon us, there is no better time than now to refresh your memory on some important safety tips before your child or teen heads back down the hallways. Luckily, the National Safety Council (NSC) publishes a back-to-school safety list each year that parents and caregivers should brush up on – and share with their children.
Because kids and teens can sustain school-related injuries in a variety of ways, there are a few key areas you should discuss. They are playgrounds and sports, teen drivers, backpacks, driving your child to school, bus riders, bike riders and walkers. Before the new school year begins, it is a good idea to take a look at the useful tips we have compiled from the NSC on these topics below.
The NSC says it is important to pick a child’s backpack carefully. Some are designed by manufacturers to have ergonomic features that reduce discomfort and enhance safety. Here are some tips for avoiding backpack-related hazards:
- Tell your children to use both straps when wearing their backpack to make sure the weight is evenly distributed on both shoulders
- Use rolling backpacks with caution, since they create tripping hazards in crowded school hallways
- Never overstuff a backpack – backpacks should not weigh more than 5% to 10% of your child’s body weight
Playgrounds and Sports
Having fun on the playground and creating lasting friendships and getting exercise by playing sports are a crucial part of growing up, but they come with some couple dangers as well. For example, to avoid strangulation hazards on the playground, the NSC recommends telling your child to leave their jackets with drawstrings and necklaces at home. Bumps, minor scrapes and bruises are a part of growing up, but make sure you keep an eye out for any signs of a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. They are:
- A headache that gets worse or does not go away
- Disorientation or confusion
- Loss of vision in one or both eyes or an enlargement of the pupil in one or both eyes
- Repeated vomiting or persistent nausea
- Slurred speech
- Convulsions or seizures
If you suspect that your child has sustained a brain injury, you should seek medical care right away.
Driving Your Child to School
Practicing safe and responsible behaviors while driving is not only common sense, but it is also a great way to set a good example for your younger family members. Here are some other helpful tips for driving your school-aged child:
- Stay alert and avoid all distractions behind the wheel
- Obey posted school zone speed limits and follow your school’s drop-off procedure
- Make eye contact with children who are crossing the street
- Never pass a bus that is loading or unloading children
- The area ten feet around a school bus is the most dangerous space for children; stop far enough back to allow room for them to enter and exit the vehicle
We know it is scary for parents when their children grow up and are old enough to get their driver’s permit or license, and for good reason: the tragic truth is that car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. The good news is that there are plenty of steps we can take to protect them from these avoidable dangers, which include:
- Teens usually crash because they lack driving experience, but you can change that. Take time to practice with your teen driver every week, before AND after they get their license
- Always set a good example
- Sign the New Driver Deal, an agreement that helps define expectations between parents and their teens. You can read and print the Deal here: https://www.nsc.org/road/resources/dih/new-driver-deal?
Bus Riders, Bike Riders and Walkers
Plenty of children walk, ride the bus, or bike to school. While these are all great ways to commute in the morning and afternoon, it is important to take some general precautions. Parents or caregivers of children who ride a school bus should:
- Teach your children general bus safety rules, like staying seated and not horsing around. Practice with them regularly
- Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper, safe way to get on and off the bus
- Teach your children to always stand six feet (or three giant steps) away from the curb
If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, teach them to walk on the side of the road until they are ten feet ahead of the bus; your child and the bus driver should be able to see each other the entire time they are crossing. Children who bike to school need to be careful as well. Remind them to:
- Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic and in a single file line
- Come to a complete stop before crossing a street. Dismount the bicycle and walk across the intersection
- Always be alert and avoid all kinds of distracted bike riding
- Make sure your child has a properly fitted bike helmet and wears brightly colored clothing
Lastly but certainly not least is reminding your child or teen about being careful if they are going to walk to or from school. Here are some of the points you should talk to them about:
- Regularly review your family’s walking safety rules so that they stay fresh in your child’s mind
- Walk on the sidewalk if one is available; if the street has no sidewalk, walk so that you are facing oncoming traffic
- Before crossing the street stop and look left, look right, and look left again to see if any cars are coming
- Stay alert and avoid all distractions
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing and always cross at a crosswalk or designated intersection
We know that the return to school can be a chaotic time, but it is also an exciting one that is full of new possibilities. Preparing yourself and your child or teen for the new school year by going over safety rules is a great way to get ready. We may be able to help if you have any legal questions or concerns about an injury or illness your child experienced at school. To find out more, contact one of our representatives online.
Philadelphia Premises Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
If you have questions about filing a claim for injuries you sustained, contact the Philadelphia premises liability lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.