As summer winds down, the American Red Cross urges parents to consider safety as their children head back to school. While your family settles back into its school-year routine, take a minute to review the following safety tips to prepare for the school year ahead.
• Make sure your child knows his or her home phone number and address, parents’ work contact information, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1.
• Talk to your child’s teacher or school principal about the school’s emergency plan and how you will be notified if an emergency happens at the school.
• Remind your child that the most important thing they can do if an emergency happens at school is to stay calm and listen to the direction of their teachers or principal.
• Tape a copy of your family’s contact numbers and meeting place(s) to the inside of your child’s binder or homework notebook and in their book bag.
If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb. Other safety steps for students include:
Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop.
• Only board your bus and never an alternate one.
• Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
• Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
• If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.
• All drivers should be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones.
Biking and Walking
Students who ride their bike to school should always wear a helmet, obey all traffic signs and ride on the right in the same direction as traffic.
Those who walk to school should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards. Parents should walk young children and children taking new routes or attending new schools at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely.
The return to school means many student athletes will be outside for practice. But during a heat wave, athletes should avoid workouts and exercise during the hottest times of the day—these should be scheduled for early in the day or later in the evening. Other ways to stay safe include:
· Get acclimated to the heat by reducing the intensity of your workouts or exercise until you are more accustomed to the heat.
· Take frequent, longer breaks. Stop about every 20 minutes for fluids and try to stay in the shade.
· Those in charge of student practices should reduce the amount of heavy equipment athletes wear in extremely hot weather.
· Dress athletes in net-type jerseys or light-weight, light-colored cotton tee shirts and shorts.
· Know the signs of heat-related emergencies and monitor athletes closely.
· Athletes should inform those in charge if they are not feeling well.
Be Prepared at Home and School
The start of a new school year is also a good time to assess how prepared you are at home. Being prepared for possible emergencies is crucial at home, school and work, and could save a life.
· Get a kit: Families that have an emergency kit will feel empowered to not only help themselves in a disaster or emergency, but may also be prepared to help a friend, family member or neighbor in need. The Red Cross recommends that your kit contain supplies such as bottled water, nonperishable food, first aid supplies and medications to last your family for three days.
· Make a plan: The Red Cross recommends developing and practicing an evacuation and communications plan. Each person should know how to reach family members and where to meet if you can’t go home. Families should also choose an out-of-state relative or friend as an emergency contact.
· Be informed: The Red Cross suggests that families learn about what types of disasters or emergencies are most likely to occur where you live, work and play. Download our First Aid App, packed with great information and tools to help you prepare and respond to emergencies.
· Get Trained: First aid and CPR courses are a vital component of disaster preparedness, and could help you save a life in an emergency. Babysitter Training is a great way to help children safely care for themselves or younger siblings after school or to launch a high school job opportunity. To learn more or register for a class, please visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.