Safety Tips: Children Going to School
If you drive your children to school, the number one rule is for everyone to buckle up. The congestion of hurried buses and cars around the school can be dangerous.
Riding in a Car
- Most traffic accidents occur close to home.
- Everyone needs to be buckled up properly. That means older kids in seat belts, younger kids in booster seats, and toddlers and infants in child safety seats.
- All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seats of vehicles.
- Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You may want to limit the number of teen passengers to prevent driver distraction. Do not allow your teen to drive while eating, drinking, talking on a cell phone, or while reading and writing text messages.
- Don't drive off the moment your child gets out of the car.
- Wait to see that they reach a safe spot before you go.
Riding the Bus
- According to the National Safety Council, last year, approximately 26 students were killed and 9,000 were injured in incidents involving school buses. More often than not, these deaths and injuries occurred as children were entering and exiting the bus.
- Choose a safe place for your child to wait for the bus, located away from traffic and the street.
- Teach children to stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals that it is safe to enter.
- When being dropped off, children should exit the bus and walk ten giant steps away from the bus. Keep a safe distance away from the bus and remember that children are small, so the bus driver can see them best when they are back away from the bus.
- Encourage them to use the handrail to enter and exit the bus.
- Children should always be aware of street traffic around them. Drivers are required to follow certain rules of the road concerning school buses, however, not all do. Teach them to always be alert and take an active role in protecting themselves and watching out for their own safety.
Walking to School
It is important to choose the safest route to the school, not the fastest. Consider the number of streets to be crossed, the size and traffic of those streets, and the presence of lights, crosswalks and crossing guards.
Walk or ride the potential route with your child. Make note of possible hazards and your child's ability to handle them: Are there sidewalks? Is the neighborhood clean? Are there suspicious or scary residents along the way? Are there stray, aggressive or unrestrained dogs?
Use the buddy system and do not allow the use of headphones, cell phones or Gameboys while walking or riding. Children need to be alert to their surroundings and be able to hear approaching cars or people. Teach children not to rely on drivers being able to see them and not to expect that they will follow traffic laws. We have all been witness to the behavior of typical Miami drivers!
- Make sure your child's walk to school follows a safe route with crossing guards at every intersection.
- Children should always walk with a buddy.
- Wearing bright colored clothing will make them more visible to drivers.
Biking to School
For bikers, helmets are not an option - they are the law! Every year, about 200 children are killed in bike-related accidents, and more than 60% of these deaths involve head injuries. Helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 85%. Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
- Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
- Mind all traffic signals and the crossing guard. Never cross the street against a light, even if there is no visible traffic.
- Walk bikes through intersections.
- Wear light colored clothing and reflective material for maximum visibility.
Coming Home From School
All the same rules apply. However, you must consider the situation that your child will come home to. Will someone be home to receive them, or will they need to let themselves into the house and stay alone for a while?
If your child will be alone until you get home, you should have a clear set of firm rules:
- Establish a check-in time. Your child must call at the designated time every day to let you know that he is inside the house and safe. Allow a 15-minute grace period for delays before calling in the National Guard.
- Once inside and doors are locked, they stay locked. No outdoor activities until parents are home.
- They should not open the door to any stranger for any reason and they shouldn’t open the door to acquaintances either. Make a very short list of trusted people to whom they may open the door. NOBODY else is allowed unless they get your permission first.
- In reality, children are most likely to be threatened by common household dangers like cooking fires and falls than anything else. Assess your home for potential hazards in relation to your child’s maturity level and add rules accordingly.
- Post the rules along with emergency contact numbers in a visible place.
As your child grows, encourage responsibility. Teach children that they are responsible for their own safety. They must be aware of their surroundings and learn to protect themselves at all times.