It’s almost time for the school bells to ring again and the American Red Cross has steps everyone can follow to help make the trip back to the classroom a safe one.
“Safety should be the top priority for all students, especially younger children and those heading to school for the first time,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer for the region. “Whether riding, biking or walking to school, we want everyone to arrive and then return home safely.”
SCHOOL BUS SAFETY If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand back from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Other safety steps include:
- Wait to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has signaled to get on.
- Tell children they should only board their bus – 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, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
- Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.
GET TO SCHOOL SAFELY If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt.
- Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”) and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
- If a teenager is driving to school, parents should mandate that he or she use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.
- Some students ride their bike to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right in the same direction as the traffic is going.
- When students are walking to school, they should only cross the street at an intersection. If possible, use a route with crossing guards.
- Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.
WHAT DRIVERS SHOULD KNOW Drivers should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean and be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down – especially in residential areas and school zones. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.
Parents should also make sure the child knows their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1. They should also teach children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.
TAKE A FIRST AID CLASS Red Cross training can give someone the confidence and skills to help with everyday emergencies from paper cuts to school sports injuries. A variety of online and in-class courses are available at redcross.org/takeaclass. People can download the free Red Cross First Aid App (redcross.org/apps) for instant access to expert advice whenever and wherever needed.