It’s that time of year…school is back in session! It’s exciting for children to begin a new school year and get back on the path to learning, making new friends, and starting extra curricular activities.
With all of this excitement, it’s important we teach our children about back to school safety. While we all want to keep our children as safe as possible, unfortunately we can’t protect them 100 percent of the time.
The National Safety Council suggests that all families review basic safety information to avoid injuries and accidents that commonly occur at school, on the way to school and even after school to help prevent children from becoming a statistic.
A Safe Bus Ride
According to Safe Kids Pennsylvania
, school buses are the safest method of getting kids to and from school. Because of their specialized design, school buses offer a safer ride than the family car.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
touts that school buses keep an estimated 17.3 million cars away from our schools every morning! Though school buses offer high visibility, specially designed lights and mirrors, and high seat backs, kids can still get hurt on or around the bus. Discuss these important school safety rules with your child:
- Stay clear of traffic while waiting for the bus.
- Remain alert, check for moving traffic, and let the bus stop completely before approaching it.
- Use handrails.
- Stay seated while the bus is in motion and do not distract the driver.
- When exiting the bus, wait for the driver’s signal to cross. Once the driver signals, look left, right, then left again, and stay alert as you cross.
- Never approach the rear wheels of the bus or cross close to the front of the bus.
- Children should never assume that motorists see them. In fact, according to the NHTSA, the hours before and after school see the most school-aged pedestrian deaths.
Backpacks and School Safety
Most of us do not see something as seemingly harmless as a backpack as a possible hazard. However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found in a 2014 study that at least 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries each year! Some states have even enacted legislation to keep our kids’ backpacks from tipping the scales and causing injury.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, backpacks should weigh no more than 10% of a child’s body weight. To avoid the possibility of short or long-term health problems related to heavy backpacks, the National Safety Council
advises purchasing a backpack with the following:
- An ergonomic design
- The proper size which is not wider than or longer than a child’s torso and does not hang more than 4 inches below the waist
- Padded straps
- Hip and chest belts
- Multiple compartments for better weight distribution
- Compression straps for stability
- Reflective material
Staying Safe on the Playground
We all want our children to have fun and stay safe on the playground. Luckily, playground equipment has become safer in recent years. Unfortunately, safer doesn’t mean harmless.
According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
, at least 20,000 children each year are treated for traumatic brain injuries related to playground accidents. This frightening statistic reveals the potential dangers posed by playground equipment. Look for these hazards where your child plays:
- Unsafe surfaces: More than 80% of playground injuries are caused by falls. The surface around the playground equipment should be made of at least 12-inch deep wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel, or rubber.
- Potential falls that exceed 6 feet
- Sharp edges or hardware capable of hooking or cutting a child
- Openings between 3.5 – 9 inches where a child’s head or body part could become entrapped
- Crowded equipment
- Lack of Supervision: According to Safe Kids Pennsylvania, at least 45% of playground injuries happen when children are improperly supervised.
Heads Up, Phones Down
Distracted walking and driving accidents are becoming commonplace. A 2012 report by Safe Kids Worldwide
found that approximately 61 pedestrians under age 19 are injured each day in the United States. This research revealed that teens are now twice as likely as younger children to be killed as pedestrians.
Due to the rise in teen pedestrian deaths, the National Safety Council is attempting to educate the public on the problem of walking while texting. A study by the Nielsen Company revealed that teens between 13 and 17 send an average of seven texts for every waking hour. Remind your teen of these important safety measures:
- Never walk while texting or talking on the phone.
- If texting, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk.
- Never cross the street while using an electronic device.
- Do not walk with headphones on.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Always walk on the sidewalk if one is available; if a child must walk on the street, he or she should face oncoming traffic.
- Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street.
- Cross only at crosswalks.
School Safety and Sports-Related Concussions
Is your child at risk of suffering a concussion? Coaches and parents need to be educated on how to handle the potential of these very serious injuries.
Most states, including Pennsylvania, have a youth sports concussion law to protect children from the potential risks. The Pennsylvania Youth Sports Concussion Law
became effective July 1, 2012.
According to the Sports Concussion Institute, 5-10 percent of all athletes are diagnosed with a concussion in any given sports season. Football (75 percent chance) and soccer (50 percent chance) are the highest risks for males and females respectively. High school athletes suffer the most concussions, but it is an increasing problem for younger children as well. Some children’s symptoms improve relatively quickly; others experience longer-term impacts from their injuries.
Personal Injury Attorneys On Your Side
Back to school safety isn’t to be taken lightly. Any suffering endured by a child weighs heavily upon their parents. If your child has been injured during the school year, the experienced attorneys of Donaghue & Labrum will be by your side every step of the way. We have assisted countless local families in personal liability cases, and we know that you deserve to be compensated for your suffering and loss. Please contact us for a free consultation at one of our conveniently located practices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania.