The back to school season is a busy one for thousands of families in Colorado. It marks the return of school buses, field trips, carpools and playgrounds. Yet it is also a dangerous time for kids. Unfortunately, reckless drivers, lack of crosswalks and negligent groundskeepers could all put your child in jeopardy this school year. Send your child to class in confidence this fall with a few safety tips.
Avoid the worst of the back-to-school traffic by leaving 10 minutes earlier than you normally would. The drop-off area of the school can get more chaotic the closer it gets to the bell, increasing the chances of a collision. Missing the crowds could reduce your odds of getting into a vehicle or pedestrian accident. Map out your route ahead of time for the best efficiency the day of. If you use a bus, wait with your children at the bus stop, if possible. Teach your children to walk to the bus stop or school using the safest route – ideally one with crosswalks and crossing guards.
Do not let your children assume adult drivers are prudent, safe or responsible. Instead, teach them to take their safety into their own hands. If they are old enough to walk to or from school alone, make sure they practice smart pedestrian safety. This includes staying on the sidewalk, only crossing at intersections, paying attention to the road (and not a cellphone), listening to crossing guards and looking both ways before crossing the street. Teach your kids about distracted drivers so they know the risks of walking near the school.
Once your child is old enough, biking can be a safe and productive way for him or her to get to school. If your child bikes to school, however, enforce a helmet rule. Although Colorado does not have a universal helmet law, telling your child to wear a helmet could drastically reduce his or her odds of suffering a serious head injury in an accident. Bicycle helmets save hundreds of lives each year.
Do not become the driver that puts kids’ lives in danger this school year. You may think you can multitask behind the wheel, but you are not the exception to the rule. Distracted driving puts everyone else on the roadway at risk. Put your phone away while driving, especially in school zones. Always obey the speed limit and keep a careful eye out for pedestrians. Children may dart out from between parked cars, so be extra cautious in school zones and residential areas. Share the road with school buses. You legally must stop while a bus is loading or unloading children on either side of a two-lane road.
Falls at school are a common cause of child injuries. While most kids can fall dozens of times without any injuries, it only takes once to fall the wrong way and fracture a bone or suffer a concussion. Help prevent falls at school by sending your kid with safe, closed-toed shoes. Nonslip sneakers, for example, could prevent a slip and fall accident on a slippery or wet surface. If your child does fall at school and sustain a serious injury, the school may be liable for an unsafe premises.
Playground accidents can cause catastrophic childhood injuries. Old, rusted or damaged playground equipment could cut your child, jam his or her fingers in parts or cause fall injuries. Visually inspect the playground yourself before the first day of school. The school should have hired a professional maintenance crew to pick up dangerous objects or debris such as sharp sticks, as well as to replace old or damaged equipment. If you notice anything that could pose a safety hazard to playing children, report it to the school. You may be able to prevent a foreseeable accident.