Back to School Safety Checklist August 11th, 2014
Just as you’re getting the hang of your summer schedule, the start of the next school year is right around the corner. As you rush around collecting pencils, paper, books, and new clothes for your kids, remember to prepare for the coming changes to your routine, too.
Your kids are getting older and with every year that passes, they get new freedom and responsibility. But with that comes a little more risk. Before the first day of classes, you might want to review some important rules and good practices with them. Use this back-to-school safety checklist to get that conversation started.
Back-to-School Safety Checklist
Protect your kids by giving them these guidelines:
Be cautious going to and from school. If they’re walking to school or a bus stop, go over the route a few times and find the least risky places to cross streets. Let them know how to react if approached by a stranger (if someone approaches, they should run away and yell, “This is not my parent!”). If you or another adult is driving them, choose a low-traffic area for pick-ups and drop-offs. For more good tips, read this full list of school transportation safety (PDF).
Know key information by heart. Have your kids memorize your cell phone number and their home address; you never know when they might need it. If you have a home security system, make sure they know the code and how to disarm the alarm.
Have an emergency game plan. Being prepared for an emergency scenario is as easy as having a few conversations with your kids. If something happens to your home, let them know whose house they should go to as an alternative. This way, you’ll know where to find them. Give that neighbor a list of important phone numbers like your office line and another family member of yours, in the event you are incapacitated.
Establish rules for being home alone. If your kids arrive home before you, have a protocol for going directly inside, locking the door, not responding to strangers knocking, and never mentioning to anyone at the door or on the phone that no adults are at home. Alternatively, you could answer the door using a SkyBell doorbell—allowing them to think you’re in the house with your child. Also make sure they know the typical signs of a burglary (door ajar, broken windows), and instruct them that if they see these things, they should not go inside and should call you and the police from a neighbor’s house.
Have a strategy for dealing with bullies. Let your kids know how they should respond if they’re getting harassed, particularly if threats of physical violence are involved. Tell them at what point it’s a good idea to get a teacher involved. And definitely, make sure they know what to do if they see or hear about another student with a weapon on school grounds.
Review medical care plans at school, if needed. If your child has allergies or needs daily medication, now is a good time to review the policy and processes related to medical care, and update the necessary parties. Even if the school nurse is already aware of any issues, new teachers should also be informed. If your child is going to a new school and has medical issues, help them get familiar with the new building layout, and where they should go when symptoms flare up.
We all hope dangerous situations never arise, but having some rules to prevent risks and a game plan for dealing with emergencies can make everyone a little bit safer. And the more prepared your kids are, the less worried you’ll feel when they’re out on their own in the world.
And, if you are leaving your kids home alone for the first time, or wondering if they’re ready for that step, consider adding a home surveillance system to your house. Easily accessible from your smart phone, it’s a great way to check in on your kids while letting them take some big steps toward independence.