How to make back to school a fun, safe time

How to make back to school a fun, safe time


August 7, 2017

Back to school is a great time to reinforce safety messages.


I can’t believe summer vacation is drawing to a close! It seems like every store has backpacks and school supplies scattered around with excited children and exhausted parents prowling the aisles.

As we start this new school year, keeping children safe is our top priority, especially for younger children and those heading to school for the first time.

Make sure your little one know his or her phone number and address, how to get in touch with parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult, and how to dial 9-1-1. Remind children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.

This is also a great time for parents to remind their older children about some “golden rules” of back-to-school safety they may have forgotten.

Back to school bus safety

If your children ride the bus to school, plan to get to the bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Remind them to:

  • Only board their buses and never alternate ones.
  • Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop.
  • Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  • Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.

Driver awareness for back to school

Drivers, please be sure to slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones. Yellow flashing lights indicate a bus is getting ready to stop and drivers should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.

Always remember to buckle up! Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

Teenage drivers should be reminded to buckle up and put their cellphones away. Out of sight, out of mind! Make sure they get enough sleep and are not rushed to get out in the morning. It is always to better to be a little early in school then risk speeding.

If children are walking to school, they should cross the street only at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards.

Remember: Let this be a fun and safe back to school year.

Do you have any back to school safety stories you want to share with us? Add them in the comments below.

Purnima Unni, MPH, CHES, is the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. She is a wife and mother of two girls, ages 19 and 16. She loves to cook, travel and watch murder mysteries. She is fluent in 3 languages and wishes she had a green thumb.