Many emotions surround going back to school. Some kids are excited, others are nervous. Some parents are heartbroken, others are thrilled. Wherever you are on the gamut, it’s important to be prepared with some back-to-school safety information.
It’s a Community Effort
Even if you don’t have children going to school, the new schedule affects the whole community. Everyone needs to drive more alert during school drop off and pick up hours, especially around bus stops and cross walks. Remember, a bus with flashing red lights and stop signs extended means you must stop—regardless of the direction you are traveling. According to the Utah Department of Public Safety
, all drivers must wait until the lights stop flashing and the signs have been withdrawn to proceed. Pay attention to crossing guards, watch for children running out between parked cars, and follow traffic rules in school zones. It's also important to teach children to follow safety protocols when walking or riding bikes to and from school. A good rule of thumb is to wait until you have made eye contact with the driver before crossing the street.
Even though parents are very busy, some involvement with the school is necessary. Make sure your child’s information is up to date and includes important details. Most schools require updated forms each year with the basics, so be sure these get filled out. Additionally, make sure you’ve notified teachers and staff of critical information such as learning disabilities, allergies, guardianship complications, etc. It’s also wise to get to know a few other parents at the school. You don’t need to get fully involved with the PTA to be effective, just a handful of parents that can be relied on in case of emergencies will do. Know what emergency procedures the school has in the case of natural disasters
as well as other emergencies that are uncomfortable to think about.
Don’t Carry Too Much Weight
It may sound silly at first, but backpack design and usage also need to be monitored. Many kids suffer from back pain, strain, and fatigue due to heavy backpacks and misuse. Too much weight can also create long-term issues with posture
. Ensure your child’s backpack doesn’t hang more than a couple inches below their waist, try to get packs with wide padded shoulder straps, and encourage your child to wear the pack tightly on both shoulders. In general, a backpack shouldn’t exceed about 15-20% of their body weight.
Finally, talk to your children about safety during school. Discuss bullying and how there is a no-tolerance policy for such behavior. If your child feels they are being bullied, address it with the school as soon as possible. The playground needs to be a topic as well, and if you’re child loves the monkey bars, make sure they leave scarves, necklaces, or hoodies with drawstrings on the ground. We want our children to have fun and get a few bumps and bruises along the way. But being a little aware can keep the fun in a healthy zone.