Back-to-school can be a chaotic time for parents and children, and it presents new safety challenges. Practicing and preparing children early for school dangers will leave everyone feeling safer and more secure. Whether your children are entering K-12, or are heading to childcare, practice these safety tips to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable back-to-school experience.
K-12 School Safety Tips
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, “Every day in the U.S. more than 40 kids are hit by a vehicle while walking. That’s more than 15,000 children injured each year.” Children, especially kindergartners, may be unfamiliar with traffic laws. Drivers need to be extra alert during back-to-school, as children may unknowingly dart out into traffic.
Walk kids to the bus stop using sidewalks and crosswalks, and obey traffic laws.
Show children how to get on and off the bus safely.
Never bend down to pick something up in front of or under the school bus.
Make sure children walk at least ten feet in front of the bus to cross the street. Kids and bus drivers should always be able to see each other.
Walking or Biking to School
Obey traffic laws: always wear a helmet, avoid distracted walking or riding, and never speak to strangers.
Walkers and bikers should take safe, visible routes to school. Never let children take an alternative route without consent.
Encourage children to walk together in groups for safety.
Driving to School
Make sure everyone inside the car is safely fastened with seatbelts and car seats.
Never pull away from school until all children are accounted for and safely entering the building.
Make sure everyone knows the designated pick-up spot.
Don’t ignore playground head injuries! Make sure your child sees a doctor immediately.
Check the playground: make sure there are at least 12 inches of mulch, chips, gravel, or safety-tested rubber-like materials for cushioning.
Bullying: teach children the dangers of bullying. Look out for signs your child may be a victim of bullying.
The National Safety Council says, “Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they're walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus.”
Drivers, pedestrians, bus riders, and bikers need to pay special attention to crossing guards, stopped school buses, and distracted drivers and walkers. It’s imperative to slow down, pay attention, and make sure everyone has a safe commute to and from work, school, and activities.
Back-to-School School Safety Tips for Young Children
For parents sending their child to childcare for the first time, it can be an overwhelming experience. Because babies and toddlers can’t report problems to parents, it’s up to caregivers to be their child’s eyes and ears. Don’t be afraid to ask providers tough questions and practice safety and preparedness procedures with children.
Care.com says, “Nothing is more important than making sure your child is safe and happy. If you're happy, your child will be, too. Even if a facility is licensed, accredited or recommended, if it doesn't feel right, keep looking."
Inside and Outside Safety
Remove all necklaces and jackets with drawstrings. These items can cause accidental strangulation on the playground and inside childcare facilities
Check the playground for uneven ground surfaces, secure guardrails and barriers, wide openings between rails and bars, and sharp points and edges.
Teach children to move away from cars when they turn on, and especially when pulling out of a parking space.
Obey traffic laws by using sidewalks and crosswalks. Be alert for distracted drivers.
Show children how to get on and off the bus safely.
Make sure your childcare facility performs regular headcounts. Children should never be forgotten on the bus.
Make sure hazardous products are stored away and kept out of the reach of children.
Make sure all doors are locked from the outside so an intruder cannot walk into the facility.
See something, say something: If you notice any suspicious individuals or behaviors near the childcare facility, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1.
Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery
Practice emergency preparedness drills in an age-appropriate manner. Have children participate in making emergency kits and to-go bags.
Check the parent handbook: make sure it includes updated safety procedures and protocols, as well as emergency preparedness, response, and recovery measures.
Update all communications: contact numbers, email addresses, and pediatrician information.
Check-in Policy: make sure providers call you if your child does not show up to childcare.
How does the facility plan to reach you? Text, email, or phone call?
Following and practicing back-to-school safety protocols will help ensure that parents and young children have secure and happy childcare experiences.
The Institute for Childhood Preparedness' award-winning staff has decades of experience in emergency preparedness, response and recovery, and early childhood education. We teach parents, students, teachers, and staff safety techniques to keep everyone safe, secure, and prepared during an emergency or natural disaster. We can come to your school or community to host an active shooter training, safety summit, or emergency preparedness training. Schedule a training with us today.