Back to school time is here! Hopefully, everyone has had a fun and exciting summer this year, but now it is time to look forward to returning to school. We are going to take a few moments to share some tips on how to keep our kids safe as they return to school.
The majority of the following content was sourced from the Nation Safety Council and can be found here.
Back to school time can mean different things to different people, but to most children and their parents, it means back to school shopping.
Will your child be getting a new backpack this year? Here are some things to consider...
When you move your child's backpack after he or she drops it at the door, does it feel like it contains 40 pounds of rocks? Maybe you've noticed your child struggling to put it on, bending forward while carrying it, or complaining of tingling or numbness.
If you've been concerned about the effects that extra weight might have on your child's still-growing body, your instincts are correct.
Backpacks that are too heavy can cause a lot of problems for kids, like back and shoulder pain, and poor posture. The problem has grabbed the attention of lawmakers in some states, who have pushed for legislation requiring school districts to lighten the load.
While we wait for solutions like digital textbooks to become widespread, there are things you can do to help prevent injury. While it's common these days to see children carrying as much as a quarter of their body weight, the American Chiropractic Association recommends a backpack weigh no more than 10 percent of a child's weight.
When selecting a backpack, look for:
- Remember: A roomy backpack may seem like a good idea, but the more space there is to fill, the more likely your child will fill it. Make sure your child uses both straps when carrying the backpack. Using one strap shifts the weight to one side and causes muscle pain and posture problems.
- Help your child determine what is absolutely necessary to carry. If it's not essential, leave it at home.
What About Backpacks on Wheels?
They're so common these days, they're almost cool. But, the ACA is not giving them a strong endorsement.
The reason? They clutter school corridors, replacing a potential back injury hazard with a tripping hazard.
So, pick up that pack from time to time, and let your children know you've got their back.
An ergonomic design
The correct size: never wider or longer than your child's torso and never hanging more than 4 inches below the waist
Padded back and shoulder straps
Hip and chest belts to help transfer some of the weight to the hips and torso
Multiple compartments to better distribute the weight
Compression straps on the sides or bottom to stabilize the contents
Slow Down: Back to School Means Sharing the Road
Things get a little crazy on the roads during the school year: Buses are everywhere, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, harried parents are trying to drop their kids off before work.
It's never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present – especially before and after school.
If You're Dropping Off
Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids. More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program. The following apply to all school zones:
Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians
According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they're walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:
Sharing the Road with School Buses
If you're driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.
By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones.
- Don't double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
- Don't load or unload children across the street from the school
- Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school
- Don't block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
- Don't honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
- Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you're on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
- Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
- When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
- If you're turning right and a bicyclists is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
- Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
- Check side mirrors before opening your door