Break Point!

Volume 1, Issue 7 View the Archives September, 1998
Break Point's Big Back to School Issue
Getting to School the Old-Fashioned Way: Walking
School Buses-Know the Danger Zones
Bicycle Safety from Head to Toe
Carpooling Your Precious Cargo
Prevention Web Sites of the Month
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Breakpoint's Big Back to School Issue

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

Many people have often heard exaggerated stories of the hardships their parents or grandparents had getting to school. Stories of the ten-mile walks in the snow, with only one shoe on and carrying their brother on their back. Today, the trip to school is considerably easier. Children arrive at school in various ways: by school bus, bicycle, walking or by car. This month, Break Point! will focus on getting our children off to school safely. We encourage parents to review all these safety tips with their children before school starts. School bus safety, pedestrian safety, bicycle safety, and safely traveling by car will be the topics focused on this month.

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 with any comments or questions.

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Getting to School the Old-Fashioned Way: Walking

Discussing the new school year with friends while walking to school can be fun. Will you get the teacher that you want? Will your best friend be in your class? Will there be much homework on the first day? While children are walking to school, they often get caught up in conversation and do not pay attention to the traffic around them. Review simple safety tips for pedestrians with your children will help them travel to and from school safely:

  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk and you have to walk on the side of the road, always walk FACING traffic.
  • Dress to be seen. Wear brightly colored clothing so drivers can see you during the daytime. At night, wear reflective tape on you shoes, cap or jacket to reflect the headlights of the cars coming towards you.
  • Cross only at corners or marked crosswalks.
  • Stop at the curb, or the edge of the road.
  • Stop and look left, then right and then left again, before you step into the street.
  • If you see a car, wait until it goes by, then look left, then right and then left again until no cars are coming.
  • If a car is parked where you are crossing, go to the nearest cross walk.
  • Walk-do not run across the street

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School Buses-Know the Danger Zones

As a parent you have been waiting five or six years for this day to arrive. Your child is starting school and will have to ride the bus for the first time. The school bag is packed with the necessary supplies; you have made your child's favorite lunch, and dressed him in a brand new outfit to start school. You have taught him to follow directions from the teacher and to ask questions. Teaching your children about school bus safety should be a primary concern days before your small child leaves for school.

Children should be instructed on the safest way to approach, board and exit the bus safely. It has been a long summer and children may have forgotten the simple safety tips they learned in the previous school year.

Twenty-three million children ride the bus to school each day. Most of the crashes happen during the daylight hours and when the weather is clear. The greatest potential danger is not riding in the bus but before children get on and after they get off.

Boarding the Bus

Before the bus arrives
  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes early.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. Never run near a school bus.
  • When crossing the street, always look left, then right, and left again. If there are parked cars, cross the street at the nearest crosswalk.

Getting on the bus

  • When the bus approaches, stand three giant steps away from the curb.
  • Wait for the bus to stop. The driver will open the door and signal to the children that it is OK to board the bus.
  • Never walk behind the bus or too close to the sides of the bus.
  • If you should drop something near the bus, do not pick it up until you tell the bus driver or the bus has pulled away.
  • When getting off the bus, quickly take your seat and buckle up the seat belt.

Riding the school bus

  • Stay in the seat while the bus is moving.
  • Try to keep quiet. No horseplay on the bus so the driver can concentrate on the road.

Getting off the bus. Learn the three school bus danger zones!

FRONT - Walk at least 5 giant steps ahead of the bus before crossing in front of it.

SIDES - Never walk too close to the school bus. Stay at least three giant steps away from the sides of the bus.

BEHIND - Never walk behind a school bus. The driver is unable to see behind the bus.

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Bicycle Safety from Head to Toe

Thousands of children ride their bicycles to school every day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), three out of four bicycle crashes results in head injuries. A bicycle helmet is just as much a part of the bike as the handlebars or the wheels. Proper maintenance of the bicycle and navigating the streets are also a top priority. Remember to follow these safety tips when sending your child off to school on their bicycle:

  • Make sure the bicycle is in proper working order. The bicycle must be the right size for the rider, the seat is adjusted, the brakes are in proper working order and the tires are inflated correctly.
  • Always wear a bicycle helmet. Make sure the helmet is fitted properly before you get on the bike.
  • Wear brightly colored clothing so motorists and pedestrians will be able to see you better.

Keeping an eye out when navigating the streets:

  • Stop and look for traffic before entering the road. Always stop at red lights and stop signs.
  • Ride on the right side of the street with the flow of traffic.
  • Avoid riding at night.
  • Use hand signals when changing lanes or turning. Proceed carefully and obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Walk your bicycle across busy intersections.
  • Watch out for dangerous obstacles in the streets; Wet leaves, puddles of water, loose gravel, broken glass or potholes in the road.

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Carpooling Your Precious Cargo

Carpooling is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to get our children off to school. Many parents often share the responsibility of getting their children off to school or after school activities. Whether the school is a few blocks or a few miles away, safety issues are of great importance. Taking on the added responsibility of getting not only your children but also extra children in the car heightens safety concerns. Child auto safety is as simple as ABC: Always Buckle Children in the Backseat.

  • Children 12 and under should ride in the back seat. The safest place for children of any age to ride is in the back seat and properly restrained with safety belts at all times.
  • Children under 60 pounds should be buckled in a booster seat.
  • Younger children, less than 40 pounds should be restrained in a properly fitted car seat.
  • Babies, less than one year of age and less than 20 pounds should be in infant seats in the rear-facing position.
  • Parents should set a good example by buckling up too! Everyone should buckle up with both lap and shoulder belts on every trip.
  • If a child must ride in the front seat, move the front seat back as far as possible from the dashboard and make sure the child is restrained properly.
  • If the seating arrangements in the car cannot safely accommodate all of the passengers, you may need to rearrange the carpooling agreement to include additional drivers.
  • Remember that it takes only one minute out of your time to make sure everyone is buckled in. That one minute can save a life.

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Prevention Web Sites of the Month

American Academy of Pediatrics
Center For Rural Emergency Medicine
Illinois Emergency Medical Services for Children
National Safety Belt Coalition - Promotes the lifesaving benefits of safety belts and child safety seats
United States Department of Transportation

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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

  • Brain Injury Awareness Month
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month
  • Family Health Month
  • Child Health Month

The information on the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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