Back to School Safety Checklist for Parents.

As the summer days wind down and the back-to-school season approaches, parents are gearing up for a new academic year filled with learning and growth. It can be an exciting time for kids, filled with back-to-school shopping, new classrooms, and new friends. But for parents – especially those sending their kids to a new school – this season can bring it’s own stress.

CPR Training for Caregivers

While we commonly discuss the importance of performing CPR on a drowning victim, cardiac arrest in children can occur in a variety of settings, including a classroom or playground. Learning CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, can help you provide crucial medical aid before emergency services arrive. According to the American Heart Association, a bystander who immediately begins performing CPR can double (or even triple) the rate of survival for the patient.

Becoming CPR certified is easy. Ensure your child’s teachers, relatives, and anyone who supervises them are certified before the start of the school year. Find CPR training near you.

Many CPR classes are offered in tandem with AED training. An AED, or an automated external defibrillator, is auser-friendly medical device designed to deliver an electrical shock to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm. Most have detailed pictures and an automated voice that instructs you how to use the device. When you’re trained in both CPR and AED, you’re prepared to respond to a range of medical emergencies, ensuring the safety of your family and your community.

Backpack Safety

An overloaded backpack can lead to strain on a child’s back and shoulders. Help your child pack their bag wisely:

  • Ensure the backpack’s weight is evenly distributed and that it doesn’t exceed 10–15% of your child’s body weight.
  • Use both shoulder straps to prevent strain on one side of the body.
  • Determine which school supplies can be left at home or school to minimize unnecessary weight.

Bullying Awareness

It’s many parent’s worst fear to discover that their child is being bullied – or worse – is bullying others. Check in with your kids often to learn about what’s going on in their lives so you can intervene early.

  • Daily Debriefs: Ask your child to share a daily rose (a highlight or success), thorn (a challenge), and bud (new ideas or something they’re anticipating). This proactive approach encourages your child to be mindful and to describe experiences they might not otherwise mention. Parents can model openness by sharing their own rose, thorn, and bud too!
  • Ask open-ended questions when talking to your child. Statements like “Interesting. Tell me more,” can give them the boost they need to think more deeply and share more freely.
  • Taking some time to ask your child about their friends can also shed some light on whether or not they’re coming in contact with bullies.
  • Avoid judging them: as a child, it can be scary to confide in an adult, especially about hard topics. If a child feels they are being judged, they are even less likely to share information. Instead, validate your child’s feelings and commend them for communicating on a tough topic.
  • Reinforce the importance of treating others with respect and kindness, and educate them about the signs of bullying, both in-person and online.

Transportation and School Bus Safety

School buses are standard in most American towns, but they’re typically unsupervised, with the exception of the driver. Remind your child of these basic school bus safety tips from the National Safety Council before boarding the bus this school year.

  • Stand 6 feet away from the curb when waiting for the bus.
  • When you cross in front of a bus, make sure you can see the bus driver’s eyes. If you can’t see him/her, they likely can’t see you! NEVER walk behind the bus.
  • Wait until the bus has fully stopped before getting on or getting off the bus.
  • Stay in your seat and don’t let any loose items go free (or worse, throw items).

If your child walks to school, identify the safest route with the least amount of crossings. Practice the route with your child, reminding them of street signals, to stay alert, and to always look left, right, left before crossing the street.

Car Seat Safety

If you’re joining the two-thirds of parents who drive their children to school each morning, here are some tips to make sure your car rides are smooth and safe.

  • As children grow, the kind of car seat needed to keep them safe will change. Generally, a child should use a forward facing car seat until they are 4–7. Follow the U.S. Department of Transportation’s guide to select the right car seat for your child’s size and car.
  • All children 12 and under must sit in the backseat. Booster seats are advised until the seat belt fits, which usually is around ages 8 to 12.
  • Children are more likely to wear a seatbelt when their adult does too. Parents must model car safety by always wearing a seatbelt and shoulder strap.

Stranger Danger

We’ve all read the headlines and heard the true crime podcasts – stranger danger is scary at any age. Encourage the buddy system and ensure your child knows what to do if they are approached by someone they don’t know. Run through a few potential scenarios. In the same conversation, discuss the dangers of sharing personal information online.

Emergency Contacts and Information

Before sending them back to school, ensure that your child knows their full name, home address, and phone number, including area code. Teach them how to call 911 in case of an emergency and who they can trust in case of an emergency.

Back to school is an exciting time for children and parents alike. By following these safety guidelines, you can contribute to a secure and nurturing learning environment that promotes both academic success and personal growth. Remember, safety starts at home, but it’s a collective effort involving schools, parents, and students working together to ensure a safe and productive school year.

August 28, 2023