A new school year is upon us. It’s an exciting time for everyone – parents and kids alike. It is important for adults and children to review school safety procedures, so everyone can have a safe and healthy school year.
The new school year means adjustments for everyone – for the kids it’s adjusting to a more structured schedule and for adults it’s adjusting to an increase in pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic. During the first few weeks of school the bus drivers and the kids are adjusting to the new routes. Additionally, there may be kids walking or riding bikes to school in your neighborhood. It is important to remember that traffic in your area will increase and school speed zones will be enforced, so you should allow extra time to get to your destination. Drivers should pay particular attention in and around school zones.
For parents dropping off and picking up from school:
- Eliminate all distractions
- Put down the phone and avoid talking even on a hands-free device
- 100% of your attention should be focused on navigating the school parking lot
- Overly excited kids tend to run, dart and move unpredictably – be alert and ready to stop quickly
- Obey the 5 mph speed limit in school parking lots
- Obey your schools’ specific procedures for drop off and pick up – there is a method to their madness. The school administrators have specific rules, designated lanes and directional traffic flow set-up to ensure the safety of everyone. Don’t break these rules because you are running late and need to get to a meeting.
For children walking to and from school:
- Consider if your child is mature enough to walk to school
- Walk with your child the first week so you can gauge their level of readiness
- Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route and they cross whenever possible where a crossing guard is present
- Always walk on a sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk and you have to walk in the road, always walk FACING traffic
- Walk in groups
- Before crossing the street, stop and look left, then right, then left again
For children biking to and from school:
- Always wear a helmet, no matter how short the ride
- Ride on the right side, the same direction as traffic – in a single file line
- Be seen – Be aware – Be predictable
- Respect traffic lights and stop signs
- Remember to always walk your bike across a crosswalk or street
For children riding a school bus to and from school:
- Arrive at bus stop at least 5 minutes before bus is scheduled to arrive
- When bus approaches stay back at least 6 feet from the curb and wait until bus stops and driver opens doors
- NEVER walk behind the bus
- If you need to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the side of the road until you are at least 12 feet in front of the bus, then cross the street. You should be able to see the bus driver and the bus driver should always be able to see you.
- If you drop something near a bus tell the bus driver
- Use handrails when entering or exiting bus
- Always remain seated on a bus
Preventing backpack-related injuries:
- A backpack should have ergonomically designed features to enhance safety and comfort
- Don’t overstuff – the backpack and contents should not weigh more than 10-20% of your child’s body weight (i.e. a child weighing 60 pounds should carry a backpack no heavier than 12 pounds)
- Ask your child to wear both straps to evenly distribute the weight
Over the last 10 years, playground related brain injuries have increased – despite improvements in playground equipment safety and design. In 2013, 29,000 kids were treated in emergency rooms for playground head injuries and concussions. Of those, 6 out of 10 where boys and over half ranged in age from 5-9 years. The majority of injuries occurred in April, May and September.
- 80% of playground accidents are caused by falls to the ground, so avoid structures built over concrete, grass or dirt. Instead seek playgrounds with a soft surface, such as wood chips, mulch, pea gravel, sand, rubberized mulch or rubber mats.
- Remind children to remove bike helmets when on playground equipment – the helmet can get stuck in bars causing entrapment and the straps can cause strangulation.
- Large structures with climbing equipment, horizontal ladders, sliding poles and ropes should not be used by children under the age of 4 .
- The most dangerous pieces of playground equipment are monkey bars, playground gyms and swings.– in fact the number of injuries are so high on the monkey bars that many experts recommend schools remove these from their playgrounds.
- If your school has a playground with monkey bars – warn your child to only use the monkey bars under close supervision with a spotter. Kids should never hang upside down from monkey bars because if they fall, there is a good chance they will land on their head.
We wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2017 school year.
Casey & Devoti is a St. Louis-based personal injury law firm. Together Partners Matt Casey and Matt Devoti have nearly 40 years of trial experience. They handle a variety of personal injury matters, including: car, truck and train accidents, victims of impaired and distracted driving, medical malpractice and birth injuries, product liability, slips/trips/falls, elder care and sexual abuse, Workers’ Compensation, and wrongful death. Matt and Matt proudly serve clients throughout metropolitan St. Louis, southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois. If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another, call the office today for a free, no-obligation consultation: (314) 421-0763.