Back to School Safety
With school starting again, I thought I would share some thoughts about how to keep our kids safe. Sometimes we—parents, school faculty and police officers—focus so much on big dangers like drugs or fights, we forget we can make a difference by paying attention to the small stuff. Research shows that school-age children are actually nine times more likely to sustain an unintentional injury — whether on the playground or in school — than to be the victim of violence while at school. In fact, it’s estimated that more than two million children ages 14 and under are injured in school-related accidents each year, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.
So, how can we prevent these accidents? Here are some safety tips from SAFE KIDS, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
1. Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and, if possible, with intersections that have crossing guards. Walk the route with your child beforehand. Tell him or her to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren’t many people around.
2. Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers. Remember, a stranger is anyone you or your children don’t know well or don’t trust.
3. Teach your kids — whether walking, biking, or riding the bus to school — to obey all traffic signals, signs and traffic officers. Remind them to be extra careful in bad weather. If your child bikes to school make sure he wears a helmet that meets one of the safety standards (U.S. CPSC, Snell, ANSI, ASTM, or Canadian). Research indicates that a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent.
4. Teach children to arrive at the bus stop early, stay out of the street, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching the street, watch for cars and avoid the driver’s blind spot. Remind your children to stay seated at all times and keep their heads and arms inside the bus while riding. When exiting the bus, children should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, exit from the front using the handrail to avoid falls and cross the street at least 10 feet (or 10 giant steps) in front of the bus.
5. Be sure that your child knows his or her home phone number and address, your work phone number, and when to call 911 for emergencies.
6. Teach children proper playground behavior: no pushing, shoving, or crowding. Give your child some strategies for coping with bullies. They should not give in to a bully’s demands, but should simply walk away or tell the bully to stop. If the bullying continues, talk to the teacher.
I’ll put these tips on our website (ukiahpolice.com) in case you’d like to share them or refer to them later. Remember, our School Resource Officer and all Ukiah police officers are here to help you and your children. If you have questions or concerns about safety, please ask us