Students will soon be heading back to the classroom and the American Red Cross is offering tips to help ensure they have a safe school year.
“We can all do our part to make sure that students are safe as they return to school,” said Patricia Murtagh, CEO of the Maine Region of the American Red Cross “There are special steps for parents of younger children who are going to school for the first time. Make sure kids know their phone number and address and how to call 9-1-1. They need to know how to reach their parents at work and another trusted adult. Teach them not to talk to or accept rides from strangers.”
School bus safety
-If children ride a bus to school, they should get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for 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.
-Teach your student to board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed them to get on.
-Kids should only board their own bus, never an alternate one.
-Make sure your student always stays in clear view of the bus driver and never walks behind the bus.
Getting to school by car, bike or on foot
-Children should always wear a seat belt in a car. 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 going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not text, make calls or use their cell phone in other ways. They should avoid eating or drinking while driving.
-Students who ride bikes to school should always wear helmets and ride on the right in the same direction as traffic.
-Children who walk to school should only cross the street at intersections and use a route with crossing guards. Parents of young children – and children taking new routes or attending new schools – should walk with them for at least the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely.
-Arrange for kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.
Drivers, slow down!
Drivers, be aware that children are out walking or biking to school! Slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones. Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean. Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is getting ready to stop and that motorists need to slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate that the bus is stopped and that children are getting on or off.
Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. This includes two- and four-lane highways. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping. Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.
Prepare for emergencies. Know the emergency plan of your child’s school in case a disaster or an unforeseen event occurs. Develop a family emergency plan so everyone will know whom to contact and where to go if something happens. Details are available at redcross.org/prepare
Take a First Aid class. The Red Cross First Aid App provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies whether it be before, during or after school. Download the app for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps Learn and practice First Aid and CPR/AED skills by taking a course (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.