Summer has quite a few days left, but it’s never too early to start thinking about safety for our children. With the return of school in the coming weeks, it’s a good idea to start planning now for the best ways to keep your child safe while they’re commuting to and from class and heading to after-school activities, and also how to help them prepare for emergencies.
Here are some of the best tips for back-to-school preparedness.
Help your child memorize important info
You may think that a child as young as five can’t remember a phone number, but most kids soak up information like little sponges. Work over the summer with your child and help them learn your phone number, address, and the name of any emergency contact. It might seem silly, but make sure little ones know your full name; often, younger children who address you as “Mom” or “Dad” don’t realize that you have a first name, just like they do.
If your child rides a bike to school, make sure their safety gear is in good shape and fits well. Helmets, reflectors, and knee/elbow pads should be checked thoroughly. Go over safety rules with your child and make sure they know how to cross the street properly. Include the correct procedures for bike paths, crosswalks, and how not to cross from between two parked cars.
If your child walks, reinforce the safety rules for talking to strangers and using crosswalks. Young children or kids who are new to the school should be escorted for the first week or until they feel comfortable going by themselves. It’s also a good idea to refrain from buying backpacks that have names monogrammed on the outside for safety reasons.
Back-to-school is a great time to start thinking about car safety, too. If your child rides in a carseat or booster seat, double-check to make sure the straps are tight and that restraints fit properly. You can also head to your local fire department for help in making sure the seat is installed the right way. You can find general guidelines for age and weight limits here, but it’s a good idea to check online for state laws.
Make sure your child has a locker or cubby to keep things in that will be used from day-to-day, so that carrying a heavy backpack isn’t a necessity. If they do need to lug around a heavy binder or books, place them in the backpack first to avoid putting strain on the back.
Lunchboxes can be havens for bacteria, so make sure your child brings it home every day so that it can be cleaned out. If a severe allergy is a worry, go over a safety plan with your child and their teachers, especially if exposure to a particular food or element requires the use of an epipen.
Make a detailed plan for your child’s after-school activities and share it with the family so that everyone is on the same page, especially if more than one person will be responsible for pick-up. If your child will be coming home when no one else is there, be sure to go over the rules of the house, such as no heating up food on the stove or answering the door. Keep guns and other weapons locked up and out of reach, and keep emergency numbers handy.