Back to School Safety for 2005-2006

As we pack our K-12 kids up and get them ready for another school year, we need to be constantly thinking about their safety. This applies both to their travel to and from school and their safety while on school grounds.

Parent drivers must remain watchful. Children dart unexpectedly into traffic, often from between parked cars. And young pedestrians face a variety of dangers while walking to and from school. Here are a few basic safety tips to follow:

� Mind all traffic signals and the crossing guard.
� Walk your bike through intersections.
� Walk with a buddy.
� Wear reflective material. It makes you more visible to street traffic.

The US Dep’t. of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests the following safe bicycling practices:

� Always wear a helmet.
� Always ride on the right side of the road. Never ride against traffic.
âÂ?¢ Ride single file. When passing other bikers or pedestrians, let them know your position by shouting out something like, “On your left!”
� Always check behind you before changing lanes.
� Watch out for dangerous things in the roadway. Litter, potholes, gravel and storm drains all can cause you to lose control.
� Stop at all stop signs and at all traffic lights. Be extra careful at crossroads.
� Always signal before making a left or right turn.
âÂ?¢ Maintain control of your bike. Don’t swerve or make sudden turns. âÂ?¢ Use caution when riding next to parked cars to avoid injury from someone suddenly opening a car door in front of you.
� Listen for cars approaching from the side or behind you.
âÂ?¢ Don’t follow a car too closely. You may be in the blind spot, where the driver cannot see you, and you may be unable to stop if the car comes to a sudden halt.
� Know your road signs and obey them.
� Always be prepared to stop.
� Wear brightly colored clothing.
âÂ?¢ Don’t wear headphones, loose clothing or inappropriate shoes.

Remember these safety tips for entering and exiting the school bus:

� Have a safe place to wait for your bus, away from traffic and the street.
� Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop.
� When being dropped off, exit the bus and walk ten steps away from the bus. Also, remember that the bus driver can see you best when you are away from the bus.
� Use the handrail to enter and exit the bus.
� Be aware of street traffic. Drivers are required to follow the rules of the road concerning school buses, but not all do. Protect yourself and watch out.

You may think that riding in a car is completely safe. But there are still rules you must follow to avoid accidents when riding in a car:

âÂ?¢ Don’t forget that most traffic crashes occur close to home.
� Safety belts are the best form of protection in the event of a crash. Everyone needs to be buckled up properly: older kids in seat belts, younger kids in booster seats and toddlers in child safety seats.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has a “Back to School Safety Checklist” with tips on making schools, child care facilities and playgrounds safer. Hidden hazards from the checklist include the following:

Playgrounds – Check the surfaces around equipment. There should be a 12-inch depth of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel, or there should be mats made of safety-tested rubber or fiber material to prevent head injury when a child falls.
Drawstrings on jackets and sweatshirts – Remove them from around the neck. They can cause strangulation by catching on things. Cut drawstrings at the waist or bottom of jackets to three inches.
Window blind cords – If the windows in your home, childcare centers or schools have blinds, cut the loop and attach separate tassels to prevent entanglement.
Recalled Products – You can get up-to-date recall and product safety information by checking out CPSC’s web site on your home or school computer. Sign up to get free recall notices by fax, e-mail or regular mailing by calling CPSC’s hotline or writing to CPSC, Washington, D.C. 20207.

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