Here are five simple pointers to make sending your child back-to-school safe and easy.
Safety Tip #1: Home Safety
Many children are home before and after school by themselves. The North Dakota Safety Council and the American Red Cross both suggest that kids 8-years-old and younger should not be left alone for extended periods of time.
And for children that are old enough to be home alone, well parents should make sure they post emergency numbers and leave an emergency plan with them.
Kids of all ages should be know how to safely escape their home in case of an emergency.
Safety Tip #2: Crosswalk Safety
It doesn’t matter if school is a mile or a block away, students headed back to school should remember to look both ways before crossing the street and that goes for drivers too.
Our next back-to-school safety tip is about crosswalk safety.
The North Dakota Safety Council says children 10-years-old and younger should not cross the street alone. They should always cross with an adult.
Children younger than 10 haven’t fully developed their peripheral vision yet and cannot judge the speed of cars.
If your child is old enough to cross alone, remind them to put their phones away and take their ear buds out. They should be always be alert when crossing the street.
Drivers can expect to see more pedestrians than normal this time of year. They are reminded to slow down and be cautious of parents and students crossing the street.
Safety Tip #3: Bus Safety
According to the North Dakota Safety Council, taking the bus can be the safest way for children to get to and from school. But students need to remember two important things when the hop on board.
First off, students should not distract the school bus driver while they are on the bus. Parents are encouraged to teach their kids to sit quietly and stay in their seat until the bus is completely stopped.
The second important thing students need to remember is to keep books and backpacks out of the aisle. They can be a tripping hazard.
Peter Pomonis with the North Dakota Safety Council says students are not the only ones that should practice bus safety. Drivers should as well.
“People need to be aware of those loading and unloading zones and make sure when they see the stop sign come off the side of the bus they are obeying that and never pass the bus especially when they are stopping to load and unload students,” says Peter Pomonis, ND Safety Council Home and Community Coordinator.
When students get off the bus they should walk ten feet in front of the bus, if they plan on crossing the street
This helps the bus driver know that they will be walking across.
Safety Tip #4: Backpack Safety
Did you know that your child’s backpack could be weighing them down?
According to the American Chiropractic Association backpacks should weigh no more than 10 percent of a child’s body weight.
The heavier the backpack, the heavier the effects.
Overweight backpacks can effect children’s posture and their overall back health.
The North Dakota Safety Council suggests that your child’s backpack is no wider or longer than their torso. It should also be cinched up so it’s tight on their back.
Parents are encouraged to buy backpacks with padding on the shoulders and on the back.
If your child uses a roller backpack, be sure to teach them how to properly put it away at school. Those can cause injuries too.
“There’s some stats out there that say the roller backpacks can cause more injuries in schools because they are left out on the ground and people trip over them so they are more of a tripping hazard. So it might be fixing the whole back problem but it might be causing another problem at school,” says Pomonis.
Other important things to look for when buying backpacks are reflective material and multiple compartments.
Reflective material helps children be seen when they walk to and from school and multiple compartments help distribute the weight on your child’s back.
Safety Tip #5: Playground Safety
You never what the weather is going to be like in North Dakota, so it’s important to dress your child in the right clothing before they head-to-school.
Parents should also pay attention to see if they are wearing any loose clothing.
The North Dakota Safety Council says lots of injuries happen from loose clothes getting caught on playground equipment.
“We suggest that when parents are dressing their kids the morning pay attention to see if they have any loose clothing: purses, necklaces, scarves anything like that that can get caught on the equipment. A lot of playground injuries happen from those loose items that get on the equipment and cause a fixation or other injuries,” says Pomonis.
Pomonis says falls are the most common injury of all ages across the state.
If children see someone get hurt on the playground they should tell an adult or a teacher right away.