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How To Keep Your Child Safe Going To And From School

Aug 29, 2007
Kids can find a lot of things to be frightened of at school. There's algebra, for instance, and chemistry, biology, Great Expectations, bullies, and that awful green stuff they serve in the cafeteria.

However, some of the most serious threats to their safety occur just getting to and from the school building each day. While we can't promise our children a safe world, we can take steps to minimize their risks.

Walking To School

Parents, more than 400 children between the ages of 5 through 14 die each year after being struck by a motor vehicle. Whether they are walking to school or to a friend's house, it is vital that your child knows some basic rules.

* To protect your child, walk with her to choose the most direct, safe route with the fewest streets to cross. Keep in mind that Safe Kids Worldwide recommends children 10 and under never cross the street alone.

* Select routes where as many youngsters as possible will merge at one place when crossing a hazardous street. It's usually more protected. If a shorter route is less safe, explain why it is not acceptable.

* Always use the "buddy system" when walking to and from school.

* Walk in well-lighted areas.

* Go straight to and from school. No loitering along the way.

* Cross at the corners. Stop at the curb. Listen and look left, right, and then left again before crossing.

* Also, look over your shoulder for vehicles that might make a turn. Keep looking in all directions while crossing.

* Do not go between parked cars.

* Do not assume that a crosswalk is automatically safe. Be alert!

* Cooperate with the police, school safety patrols, and adult crossing guards. Try to cross only at intersections with a crossing guard.

* Obey all traffic signals.

* Walk across the streets, don't run. Allow yourself plenty of time. Go only when the coast is clear.

* Face traffic when walking on roads without sidewalks.

* In bad weather or when it is dark, wear something white or reflective and/or carry a light.

Riding The Bus

Remember! All school buses are surrounded by a ten-foot area known as the "Danger Zone." In this area, it can be difficult for the driver to see you.

Parents, teach kids these rules from the National Safety Council for getting on and off the school bus:

* Leave home early enough to arrive at your bus stop on time.

* While you wait for the bus, stay away from traffic. Stand at least six feet away from the curb.

* Do not roughhouse or engage in other careless behavior.

* When the school bus approaches, line up away from the street or road.

* Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before you step on the bus.

* Don't crowd your friends when getting on and off the bus.

* When you are on the bus, never put your head, hands, arms or legs out the window.

* Before stepping off the bus, check to see that no cars are coming from the right.

* Take three giant steps away from the school bus after getting off, and never walk next to the bus.

* Stay away from the bus's rear wheels at all times.

* Don't pick up a book or dropped object after leaving the bus. Get the driver's attention first.

* If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least 10 feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road until you turn around and see the driver.

* Make sure the driver can see you! Wait for a signal from the driver before you cross the street.

* When the driver signals, walk across the street. Watch for traffic as you walk. Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver signals it is safe to keep walking.

At School

* Check playground equipment. Make sure it is anchored properly, and is at least six feet from fences and walls. Wood chips, pea gravel or rubberized pads under the equipment should be at least 12 inches deep.

And, parents, about that bully: Confront bullying right away by keeping written records, and insist that schools protect children.
About the Author
John Myre is the author of the award-winning book, Live Safely in a Dangerous World, and the publisher of the Safety Times Reproducible Articles..
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