Back-to-School Safety Tips for the 2019-2020 School Year
with Atronic Alarms, Inc.
At dusk, the lulling sound of cicadas signal that summer is ending. It also signals that school is starting, and a panic is rising in all of us who have younger children or grandchildren. We’re not ready. We’re not ready for the early morning hectic schedule, the parent meetings, the lunches, the agonizing nights of homework . . .
But we can be ready for safety. The following tips should be practiced all year long, but the beginning of school is a good time for a solid review with your children, no matter what their age.
In the United States, an average of 61 young people are hit by cars every day according to Safe Kids Worldwide. These accidents occur most often before and after school with the peak in September, when school is in full swing. Teenagers are most at risk of being hit since they are tightly tied to their technology like cell phones or iPods.
Plan a walking route to the school or bus stop. Walk the route with your child beforehand. Talk with them about the following safety tips while walking to school:
- Never text or talk on the phone.
- If it’s necessary to text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk.
- Never cross the street while listening to music or using a phone.
- Do not walk with headphones on.
- Always be aware of surroundings.
- Do not talk to or accept rides from strangers.
- Always walk on the sidewalk if one is available. If the street has no sidewalk, children should walk facing oncoming traffic.
- Cross only at crosswalks.
- Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street.
- Make eye contact with drivers.
- Do not stray from the route.
According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “the greatest risk to your child is not riding a bus, but approaching or leaving one.”
The following are tips from the NHTSA for your children to observe as bus riders:
- Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus.
- Wait at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb.
- Do not attempt to pick up any dropped items near the bus until the driver is alerted.
- Before approaching the bus doors, wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver grants permission.
- Never walk behind a school bus.
- Before crossing in front of a bus, walk on the sidewalk to an area at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus and make eye-contact with the driver.
- Understand the flashing light system.
- Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concludes that the most common form of travel to school for students age 5 to 14 is the family car. The best way to keep youth safe is for all involved, drivers and students, to remain alert and vigilant throughout the year.
The following are tips to observe while driving:
- Don’t just slow down in your own neighborhood. Observe the speed limits in every neighborhood along the entire route.
- Always watch for children who may not be paying attention.
- Watch for youth walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in a neighborhood.
- Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
- Students arriving late for the bus may run into the street without looking for traffic.
- Be especially vigilant with speed and the surroundings in school crossing zones.
- Never pass a stopped school bus with flashing lights.
- Don’t text. One moment of inattention could mean a child’s life.
Another study by the CDC found that, on average, six teens, ages 16–19, die from motor vehicle injuries every day. The presence of teen passengers increases this risk, as well as being a “new” teen driver.
Remind your teenage child of these safety tips:
- Don’t text and drive. EVER.
- Always wear a seat belt. Before you start the car, get into the habit of locking it down. Wearing a seat belt reduces serious injuries and fatalities in half.
- No drinking, no drugging, no driving. It’s the law. It’s their life. It’s their friend’s lives.
- As a parent, limit their passengers. If they need to offer a ride, remind them to stay focused. It is their job to carry passengers to the destination safely.
- New to the road? Try to keep the path from home to school as simple as possible, and ask them to follow it each time. Confidence comes from repeated practice.
- Drive the speed limit. It is put in place for a reason.
We all know accidents happen, but we hope these simple reminders to your children as they walk out the door each morning may be exactly what they need that day to return home safe.
Most college kids walk, ride bicycles or other small motorized vehicles to and on campus. Know the rules of your campus transportation and know the safe zones. Many campuses have escorts who are available if a student is uncomfortable after dark.
- If you must walk alone at night, don’t “plug in.” Keep your headphones off and stay alert. It is easy to zone out when you are plugged in . . . and then you may become unaware of your surroundings. Note the emergency call boxes and learn the safest route to your destination.
- Go out in groups with people you trust.
- Carry a whistle, pepper spray, or a personal alarm.
- ICE – If you haven’t already, add a new contact into your phone, ICE (In Case of Emergency) with a phone number to call. Whether it is your Mom, Grandfather, Aunt – someone you can rely on if a first responder is trying to help you.
- When you are feeling overwhelmed (and you will at some point) ask for help. Talk with friends, family, councilors, advisors and/or professors. Remember, you are NOT alone!
Active Shooter Response
Unfortunately, reviewing an active shooter preparedness plan with your children is something that is becoming more necessary. According the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, https://www.ready.gov/active-shooter, the mantra to follow if you find yourself in an active shooting event is: Run. Hide. Fight.
- Make a plan with your family. Look for the two nearest exits everywhere you go to have an escape path in mind.
- Identify places you could hide.
- During an attack, RUN. Getting away from the shooter is the top priority.
- Call 911 when you are safe. Describe shooter, location and weapons.
- If you cannot run, HIDE. Get out of shooter’s view and stay very quiet. Silence all electronic devices so they don’t vibrate.
- Lock/block doors, close blinds, turn off lights.
- Don’t hide in groups. Spread out along walls or hide separately to make it more difficult for the attacker.
- FIGHT as an absolute last resort. Commit to your actions and act aggressively as possible against the shooter.
The Atronic Alarms family wishes you all a safe and healthy 2019-2020 school year.