Back to School Safety Tips

For many children in our area, next Tuesday marks the first day back to school! Although this is a very exciting time of year for all, there are a few things that we all need to be reminded about to help ensure that heading back to school is safe for all.

Pedestrian Safety

  • Pay attention when walking or biking to school. Keep your head up and phones down and your attention focused on getting to school safely.
  • Cross at the cross walks and crossing guards. Although it may be tempting to cross mid-block, it isn’t safe. Take the time to cross where it is safest. It’s also very important for students to make eye contact with the drivers before they cross to ensure the driver has seen them.
  • Look left, right, left before crossing the street, and continue to look as you cross. This is the safest way to cross the street. Also, for those intersections that are equipped with safety flags, encouraging your child to use them will increase their visibility.
  • Practice the route to school. This is especially important for parents of younger children that they practice the route they will be walking or biking to school a few times to make sure their child is comfortable with the route and ensure they are doing so safely.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing, appropriate shoes and a bike helmet. Bright clothes allow drivers to see children walking or biking to school easier. Some book bags are even coming with reflective features built right in for added safety. Children who are biking to school should also wear close-toed shoes to be safest along with their bike helmet.

Personal Safety

  • Avoid personalization with children’s names. Many companies offer personalization on backpacks, jackets, etc. Although this may seem like a fun way to personalize your child’s items, it can also add a danger as it gives strangers the opportunity to address the child by name, and the child may not realize that person is a stranger. Rather than customizing with the full name, initials or a fun image are a safer option.
  • Communicate plans for after school. It’s important to make sure your child knows where they should go after school and with whom. Ensuring that your child knows this everyday can help ensure they are safe once their school day is complete.

Transportation Safety

  • Leave enough time for school drop-off. Parents who drop their child off at school should be aware that most schools have a lot of congestion at drop-off time, thus planning extra time in the morning and being extra cautious around the school will also increase safety for all.
  • Keep children in a booster seat until 4’9” and those under 13 years old in the back seat. Children need to be in a booster seat until the seat belt fits them like it does an adult. In Wisconsin, children are required by law to ride in a booster seat until they are 8 years old, weigh 80 pounds or are 4’9”, but the safest way for them to travel is to wait until the seat belt fits them properly. This generally occurs when they can pass the 5-step test. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children under the age of 13 ride in the backseat. The backseat provides additional protection because it is furthest away from the windshield, dashboard, and airbag, all of which result in many injuries in motor vehicle crashes.
  • Know the rules of riding the bus. All children who ride the bus should be reminded of the rules to make it is a safe ride for all. A simple conversation with those reminders, as well as your expectations for your child on the bus, will help keep them safe on their way home from school.