As the carefree days of summer are quickly coming to a close, keeping your kids safe as they return to school takes on special importance. A recent article from Clintonnews.com offers parents valuable tips that we’d like to share with our Clintonnews.com readers.
Children should not walk or bike to/from school alone
“Parents should keep in mind that there are precautions to take no matter how their child gets to and from school,” said Beth Bell, Tallahatchie County child and family development agent with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, about 32% of attempted stranger abductions take place while children are traveling to or from school or a school-related activity. Bell recommends that young children should be accompanied by an adult if they walk or bike to school.
Children should use a well-lit, non-secluded route and be aware of safe places along the route to go if they feel afraid or threatened. Bikers should always wear a properly fitting helmet and understand and follow the rules of the road. Kids should be dropped off as close to their building as possible, and drivers should be sure the child is inside the building or greeted by a school employee before leaving, Bell advised.
Make sure your kids are safe when home alone
Parents should also take steps to prepare their children if they will be home alone after school, said Karen Benson, Neshoba County Extension coordinator and family and consumer sciences agent with MSU. She recommends children check in with a parent or another trusted adult, such as a neighbor, by phone or text as soon as they arrive home. If any doors or windows are ajar or they notice anything else suspicious about the house, they should not enter. They should go to a neighbor’s house immediately and call 911, she said.
“Leave a list of emergency phone numbers in an easily accessible place, such as the refrigerator,” Benson said. The list should include 911 and contact numbers for parents, grandparents and a trusted neighbor. “Make sure children know their address and understand what information they should give a 911 operator. Go over first aid basics and store the first aid kit in a convenient location,” she added.
Role playing helps decision-making in an emergency
Role playing is a good way to help children make the right decisions in an emergency situation, such as a fire, tornado or accident, Benson said. She also recommends children who will be home alone take a babysitter’s training course. The course teaches basic CPR along with other safety topics and is offered by several community organizations, including 4-H. In addition, parents should establish guidelines for answering the phone and the door, playing outdoors and using the computer.
“Children should never let an unknown adult or child know they are home alone,” Benson said. “Parents should know how to check the history on the computer and understand what activity might be risky. Parents and children should have open, honest communication about the use of the computer.”
Using these tips, let’s all have a safe fall, winter and 2014!