Back to School Safety

~American Safety Council

Back-to-school safety isn’t just for kids and their parents; it affects everyone in the community. Children wait at bus stops near busy roads during rush hour, and buses share the road with us all. Now that school is back in session, it is important for everyone to remember some safety tips.

 Safety for Everyone

The biggest risk regarding school buses is children approaching and exiting the bus. Often children do not remember to follow best safety practices, so it is up to the motorists in the community to keep safety in mind.

If you leave for work in the morning when children may be on their way to school or the bus stop, be sure to drive more carefully when pulling out of your driveway and leaving the neighborhood.

  • A bus with flashing lights means children may be hurrying to catch the bus or maybe in a rush to get home and could forget to look both ways before darting into the street.
  • Yellow flashing lights on a school bus mean it is about to make a stop, so approach cautiously.
  • Red flashing lights mean the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. In many states it is illegal to pass a bus while the red lights are flashing, so be sure you are up to date on state laws regarding school buses and traffic.

Bus stops can also be a place where extra caution is needed. Children may be in a rush to get to the bus stop or may play games with friends while waiting for the bus, which can also lead to children entering the street unexpectedly. If you see a group of kids waiting at a bus stop, drive by with care.

Safety for Parents

Up-to-date contact information is an important first step for protecting a child’s safety while at school. Make sure the school has contact information for both parents and any other emergency contacts. If there are periods of time you know you will be unavailable, it is a good idea to let the school know this. Be sure to keep contact information for the school handy for yourself as well.

 Get to know the other parents of children who go to school with your child or ride the same bus. This will help to ensure someone is looking out for your child in the event you are not around. It is also a good idea to get to know the school bus driver.

 Monitor the news and weather for incidents that could cause school closures. Sometimes schools are evacuated or dismissed early due to emergencies. School closures can occur during inclement weather such as hurricanes. If you are up to date on these issues, you will know that school closures are possible and can plan ahead to make alternate arrangements. 

 Safety for Students

For students, safety starts at the bus stop. Here are important bus stop safety tips for kids:

  • Try to get to the bus stop at least five minutes early. This will prevent you from needing to rush across streets to catch the bus.
  • As always, be sure to look both ways before crossing the street and only cross at crosswalks when walking to the bus stop.
  • While waiting for the bus, be sure to stand or sit far back from the road.
  • Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and for the bus driver to tell you it is ok before getting on or off the bus.
  •  If you drop something near the bus, do not attempt to retrieve it yourself. Instead, alert the bus driver so he or she may help you. 
  •  If you walk home from the bus stop, do not accept rides from or even speak to any strangers. Even if it seems like the stranger needs help, inform them you are not allowed to talk to strangers, get home, and call your parent immediately.

Students can help to maintain a safe environment at school by setting a good example and reporting any unsafe behavior. If you see or hear anything unusual and suspicious on campus, report it to a teacher or principal immediately. Activity that should be reported to an adult includes:

  • An adult who does not work at the school and doesn’t seem to be a parent hanging around the campus, especially if this adult is approaching you or other children.
  • Another student talking about bringing weapons or dangerous materials to school.
  • Bullying by other students, whether you are the victim or if you see other students being bullied.

A safe community for children is a safe community for us all. Now that school is back in session, whether you are a student, parent, or simply a responsible member of the community, these tips can help make the school year safe and happy for everyone.