Safety tips for back-to-school season

Summer has come and gone, and it's already time for kids to head back to school. Between the thrill of meeting new classmates and buying school supplies, there can be a bunch of excitement this time of year. However, the start of the school year is not a time to sacrifice on safety. Here are a few tips to help you and your family stay safe all school year long.

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Staying safe at the bus stop

Many students ride the bus to get to and from school every day. Not only is it a part of their routine, but it's also a time to catch up with friends and socialize. It is important for parents to teach their kids the safest way to wait for the school bus, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun.

Kids should stand a safe distance away from the street when waiting for the school bus. They may not understand a unit of measurement such as 10 feet, so use kid-friendly terms such as "three giant steps" or "five bunny hops." Standing away from the curb gives the bus driver a safe distance to stop the bus and let kids board.

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Children should also wait for the bus to fully stop before getting on. It is safest to approach the bus from the door side. If children must cross the street to get on the bus, it is important they stay several feet in front of the bus so the bus driver can see them.

Choosing the right backpack

Picking out a new backpack for the school year is highly important. To a kid, this means wearing your favorite color or superhero every day to school. To a parent, this decision may be made on functionality. You may buy a larger backpack so that your child can carry all of their books inside. However, serious injuries have occurred in schoolchildren who were wearing backpacks that were too big and heavy for their bodies. According to the American Chiropractic Association, a child's backpack shouldn't weigh more than 10% of their body weight. Any heavier, and the child may begin to suffer from back pain, tingling, or numbness.

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When shopping for the back-to-school backpack, here's some features to look for, according to the National Safety Council:

  • The backpack shouldn't be wider or longer than your child's torso

  • The backpack shouldn't hang more than 4 inches past their waist

  • The backpack should have padded back and shoulder straps

To help with weight distribution, look for backpacks that have:

  • Hip and chest belts

  • Multiple compartments

  • Compression straps

High school drivers

Back to school safety is important for high schoolers too. Many students begin driving themselves to school instead of taking the bus. This right of passage may be fun for teens, but studies show that it's also risky.

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According to Teendriving.com, more than 50% of teen drivers admitted to texting while behind the wheel. The National Safety Council reported an increase in teen-related crashes in the back-to-school months, with a pattern of these wrecks occurring in the hours before school starts and after dismissal. Teens may think there's no harm in sending a quick message. It's important to teach them that taking your eyes off the road for a second can be costly.

We hope you all have an educational and safe school year!

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