As another school year begins, the American Red Cross has steps everyone can take to make the trip back to the classroom safer.
"When kids go back to school, parents should make sure the child knows his or her home phone number and address, parents' work contact information, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1," chair of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and pediatric expert Dr. David Markenson said. "Parents should also teach their children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don't know."
If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Other safety steps for students include:
Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed you to get on;
Only board the correct bus and never an alternate one;
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; and
Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.
Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean:
Yellow flashing lights - the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop; and
Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign - 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.
If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly, typically for children ages 8 to 12 and over 4'9", and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate they use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls and should avoid eating or drinking while driving. All drivers should be aware children are out walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones.
Students who ride their bike to school should always wear a helmet, obey all traffic signs and ride on the right in the same direction as traffic.
Those who walk to school should only cross the street at an intersection and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards. Parents should walk young children and children taking new routes or attending new schools at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Thereafter, arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate. For more back to school safety visit www.redcross.org.