Back to school safely
We offer the following safety tips to help young people (and parents) get through the year safely.
Every day, literally millions of children and teens board the big yellow bus to make the trek from home to school and then back home. Sharing some key safety points will make that trek a safe one.
- Except when boarding or getting off the bus, students should stay at least 10 feet (the equivalent of 5 "giant steps") away from the bus
- They should only cross in front of the bus within sight of the driver. Never cross alongside or behind the bus - these are the danger zones
- Remind them that they are to remain seated while on the bus and follow the instruction of the driver
- Anytime a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing, traffic from both directions must stop no less than 20 feet from the bus. Traffic is to remain stopped until the driver turns off the lights. Failure to do this will result in a fine of up to $300.00 and the loss of four points off your driver's license
- Driver should be aware that children often act on impulse and may dash into the street once the bus has started up so keeping an eye open for them is a good idea
Walking to school
- Remind children to walk only on sidewalks whenever possible. If they have to walk in the street, should walk as far to the left side as possible facing traffic
- They should cross only at crosswalks, obeying the "walk/don't walk" signs
- If the student uses a backpack:
- It should have wide padded straps
- The student should use both straps - not hang the pack from one shoulder
- The weight of the pack should not equal more than 20 percent of his/her weight
- Walk the route once or twice with the student, pointing out safe places to go if they need help
- Reinforce the need to be wary of the "friendly stranger":
- No legitimate adult needs to ask a child for help in finding a lost dog
- Avoid putting the student's name on any outside clothing - this gives the would-be criminal an edge by being able to call the child by his/her first name to gain the child's trust
- Children should not tell anyone who calls or comes to the door that they are alone. They should never open the door for someone that they don't know
- Let them know that it is appropriate to say no to a stranger and that it is okay to call for help including 911 if they feel threatened
Don't forget the house
Even if the drive to school is a short one, you should take certain precautions. We view burglars as operating strictly at night but contrary to stereotypes, many burglaries occur during daylight hours. Even if you return home within 10 or 15 minutes, an opportunistic burglar can enter your home, take your valuables, and be gone before you return.
View each trip to school (or anywhere else) as a very mini-vacation. Take many of the same precautions that you would if you were going to be gone for several days - lock doors and windows, leave some lights on, and try to give the home the appearance of being occupied. Give the children some locking responsibilities to get them in the habit of securing the home.
Lastly, take note of any persons or vehicles that are in the neighborhood but appear to have no business there. They could be sizing up the area for vulnerable home or even children. Jot down descriptions of the persons, vehicles, and license plate numbers. Notify law enforcement if you feel something isn't right.