Susan Hansen, Extension Educator, Colfax County
Back to School Safety
School has started. Along with this yearly occurrence comes hints for better safety in going to and coming from the school.
Walking to School
If your child walks to school, choose the safest route and walk it with your child. Look for the most direct route with the fewest street crossings. Walk the route with your children until they demonstrate traffic safety awareness. Practicing this route can be done in the evening or weekend if a parent’s job prevents walking the route during the school day.
Teach children to obey all traffic signals and markings. A flashing “walk” sign is not an automatic “go” signal. It means a pedestrian has permission to cross but must first stop and check for cars.
Make sure children look in all directions before crossing the street. Stop at the curb or edge of the road and look left, right and left again for traffic before and while crossing the street.
Teach children not to enter the street from between parked cars or from behind bushes or shrubs. Darting into the street accounts for the majority of pedestrian fatalities among children ages 14 and under.
Cross the street at a corner or crosswalk. Make sure children allow plenty of time to cross. If crossing guards or safety patrols monitor intersections, be sure to tell your child to listen to them.
Bad weather can cause extra problems. Visibility may be poor and motorists might not be able to react quickly. Icy streets or snow packed streets can prevent drivers from stopping quickly if a child runs into the street.
By far the best method of teaching your child proper pedestrian safety is to practice it yourself. Children imitate their parents and older peers and model their behavior. If you have a habit of darting into the street between parked cars, chances are your child will pick up that habit also.
Some children ride bicycles to school. Safety precautions are needed when cycling. A bike helmet should be worn at all times. Head injury is the leading cause of death in bike crashes.
Plan a safe cycling route with your child and ride it with them. A safe cycling route may not be the same as a safe walking route.
Follow the rules of the road. Children who ride bikes to school should be taught to follow the rules of the road that apply to all vehicles. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it; use appropriate hand signals; respect traffic signals; stop at all intersections, marked and unmarked; and stop and look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
Riding the School Bus
A child’s behavior at the bus stop is a very important aspect of school bus safety. Children should remember these safety tips while waiting for the bus.
Arrive at the stop at least five minutes before the bus arrives. Stay out of the street and avoid horseplay.
Always wait for parents on the same side of the street as the school bus loading/unloading zone. Cross at least 10 feet in front of the stopped bus since the bus driver has a blind spot close to the bus.
While on the bus, children should remain seated at all times, keep the aisles clear, and keep hands and arms inside the bus at all times.
Objects should not be thrown and children should not shout at or distract the driver.
When boarding or leaving the bus, children should use the handrail to avoid falls and walk in an orderly manner. Children should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before exiting and should exit only from the front of the bus.
An extra precaution is to remove loose drawstrings or ties on jackets and sweatshirts. Loose drawstrings or book bags can snag on bus handrails.
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