It’s time to head back to school and children all across Massachusetts are gearing up for a new year. Unfortunately, all of the excitement of the return to school also comes with heightened safety risks. Below are 5 tips to help you keep your children safe as they head back to school this year.
1. Make sure they follow bus safety rules.
If your children ride the bus to school, make sure that they understand how to stay safe at the bus stop, while boarding the bus and while exiting the bus. Bus riders should always:
- Stand at their appropriate bus stop until the bus arrives. Children should not wander around, even if they arrive at the bus stop early.
- Remain a safe distance away from the road while waiting for the bus.
- Wait until the bus driver has come to a complete stop, opened the doors and signalled that it is safe to get on the bus before attempting to board.
- Only ride the bus the school has assigned, unless you have received notification from the school that a different bus is appropriate. Children should never board an alternate bus if they have not been instructed to do so.
2. Teach them to be safe as pedestrians.
Whether your children walk all the way to school or just to the bus stop, they need to understand how to stay safe as pedestrians. To keep your children safe while they are walking near the road, instruct them to:
- Walk a specific route to their destination.
- Walk with a friend or classmate if possible.
- Avoid talking to strangers while on the way to school or the bus stop.
- Look out for tripping hazards on the sidewalk and/or road.
- Cross the street only where instructed, ideally in a crosswalk. If possible, choose crosswalks where crossing guards are present.
3. Keep them safe in the car.
If you have chosen to drive your children to school, you still need to take certain safety precautions in order to keep your children safe on the way to class. Be sure to:
- Put your children in the appropriate car seat or booster seat for their age and weight. Being in the right car seat reduces the risk of injury in the event of a car accident.
- Require your children to wear their seatbelts at all times during the trip.
- Avoid texting or talking on your cellphone while driving the kids to school.
- Leave your home with plenty of time to get the kids to school so that you won’t be tempted to speed or drive recklessly.
4. Accompany them when necessary.
If your children are walking a new route to school, accompany them on the route for at least the first week so you can be sure that they know how to get there. If your children are riding their bikes on a new route, consider riding along with them for a few days to make sure that they are being safe. Young children should be accompanied to the bus stop or to school every day until you are confident in their ability to stay safe on their own.
5. Have a plan for emergencies.
If your children have a problem on the way to school, such as getting lost or missing the bus, make sure that they know what to do. If your child carries a cell phone, for example, he or she should know to call you immediately. Other options including going to a neighbour’s house or returning home to call from a landline.