At CAA, we are committed to creating safe school zones. With kids heading back to school, there’s no better time to remind them about the importance of making safe and smart choices, especially if your child is planning on walking to school. Not only is walking a healthy step towards improving their pedestrian safety awareness skills, it gives kids the chance to become independent and comfortable with their community surroundings.
Here are some safety and security tips to help your kids have a safe back-to-school experience.
Build familiarity with the route. Get your children involved by helping them plan a safe route to school and have them walk the route before school begins. Make sure they take note of crosswalks, stop signs, landmarks and potential traffic hazards.
Safety in numbers. Adopt the buddy system by having your child walk to school with a sibling, friend or neighbour.
Look all ways. Remind your child to remain on the curb or sidewalk looking left, right, in front and behind (for turning vehicles) before crossing the street.
Obey traffic lights. Remind your child to never attempt to cross on a yellow or red light. It’s smarter and safer to wait for the green light before crossing the street.
Make eye contact or wave. Making eye contact with drivers when crossing the street is important; it lets pedestrians know drivers see them. A simple hand wave to drivers is also a good way of improving your child’s visibility.
Hands-free is distraction-free. Remind your child that carrying electronic and gaming devices are a distraction. If their head is down, they can’t see what’s in front of them. Explain that wearing earphones prevents them from hearing sirens or car horns. Have them keep the fun stuff at home or in their backpacks.
Discourage short cuts. Remind your child of unforeseen dangers of jumping fences, entering construction zones, cutting through poorly-lit areas, heavily wooded areas, across private property or any other space not approved by a parent.
Prepare for change of seasons. It’s always a smart idea to walk the school route with your child as seasons change. This allows them time to adjust to the shorter days. This is especially important if your child attends after-school programs or activities.
Have an emergency plan. If your child does get lost or encounters an emergency, make sure they know what to do and who to contact. This includes having them remember a parent’s work or cell number (in case no one is home). Write down important numbers on the inside of their backpack. Make sure they have access to a cell phone or know where the nearest pay phone or safe spot is to call for assistance. This can include a local police station or parent-approved friend or family member.