As a new school year begins, it’s important for parents and children to take steps to help ensure safe and enjoyable school days. Here are some age-appropriate safety tips you can share with your children as they head off to school.
Tips for grade-schoolers
Know the walking route. It’s important that young children understand how to get to and from school safely. If your child walks to school, pair him or her with a walking buddy. Ask that your child stick to the same pre-determined route every day, so that in case of an emergency, you’ll know his or her whereabouts. Have your child practice looking both ways before crossing the street and remind him or her to not talk to strangers.
Understand the bus rules. If your child rides the bus to school, teach him or her about proper bus etiquette. Wake County has reduced the number of bus stops this year, so make sure to check your bus route to see if it has changed.
Play it safe. Playground injuries are the leading cause of injury to school children ages 5 to 14 and to children in childcare.* Inspect your local playground, making sure adequate precautions are taken to prevent and/or minimize falls. If an injury does occur, make sure to check the UNC Express Care wait times on your way to urgent care.
Tips for teens
Prevent sports injuries. Sports injuries are common among active teens – but they don’t have to be. Encourage your teen to use the right equipment (shoes, protective gear, etc.) for his or her sport, to warm up before playing and to rest when tired. Also, remind your teen to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Lighten the load. Heavy backpacks place undo stress upon a teen’s back and shoulders, which can lead to pain, stiffness and poor posture. Help your teen lighten up by buying him or her a quality backpack with padding and wide shoulder straps. The backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10% to 15% of your child’s body weight. If it does, remove unnecessary items. Your teen should also carry the backpack over both shoulders to evenly distribute the weight.
Tips for college students
Be aware of your surroundings. College students, especially new freshmen, sometimes feel that they’re immune to crime simply because they are on a college campus. Unfortunately, crime can happen anywhere. Students should take the necessary precautions, such as traveling with a group and avoiding compromising situations to ensure their personal safety. Most colleges and universities provide security personnel who will escort students to evening classes or to other campus facilities at night.
Protect your possessions. Students should keep their belongings safe by locking dorm rooms and windows and never leaving backpacks, purses, laptops, cell phones, etc. unattended.
* Source: Safe Kids Worldwide, www.safekids.org.