How to Talk to Your Child About School-Related Safety

Young family in a car on a road trip smiling

A new school year means new school supplies, syllabuses and expectations. When you talk to your child about the upcoming school year, be sure to add how to prevent common school-related and playground injuries to your discussion, says Jennifer Walker, manager of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Injury Prevention Center.

Unintentional injuries, such as school playground falls and traffic crashes, are the leading cause of death in children ages 19 and under, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, more than 9.2 million U.S. children are treated for nonfatal injuries in emergency departments.

Reinforce Safety

While you don’t want your child to live in a bubble and be scared of everything, don’t be too casual about safety rules or assume they remember your instructions from last year.

Here are four safety tips to reinforce with your child every year:

  1. Practice basic pedestrian safety, even if your child takes a bus to school.
    Remind your child to:

    • Cross only at designated crosswalks
    • Look both ways before crossing the street
    • Pay attention to traffic signals
    • Never cross the street alone if they’re under age 10

    “Children younger than 10 aren’t great judges of car speed and distance,” she says.

  2. Put away phones and electronic devices when walking. One in five high school students cross the street while they’re distracted, says a recent research report by Safe Kids Worldwide. That means that your kids may not be able to see or react quickly to an oncoming car.

    “We talk a lot about the dangers of distracted drivers, but people who are on their phones or wearing headphones while walking have a lot of the same muted reflexes,” Ms. Walker says.

  3. Pay attention to the bus driver. Be a partner in safety with the bus driver by:
    • Take three or more steps back from the curb when the bus pulls up.
    • Watch for the bus driver’s signal to cross.
    • Never walk behind a bus.
    • Wait for the bus to stop before getting up from your seat.
    • Look both ways before getting on and off the bus.
  4. Use playground equipment as it was designed to be used.

Ms. Walker also recommends that your child’s caregivers and babysitters know your safety expectations, as well as where you keep emergency numbers and safety equipment. These include bike helmets and booster seats, which must be used until a child is 4 feet, 9 inches tall or 8 years old.

Kids aren’t the only ones who need back-to-school safety refreshers.You can stay up to date on safety regulations and suggestions by visiting University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Injury Prevention Center.

Jennifer Walker is manager, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Injury Prevention Center.

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