Yellow school buses and flashing school zone lights soon will be seen as early as this week in neighborhoods across our state as schools resume.
This is a busy, exciting time for families, and a great time to refresh on back-to-school safety basics.
More than 372,000 students ride school buses daily in Oklahoma. The school bus continues to be the safest form of transporting students, yet dangers can arise when boarding and leaving a bus.
• Never walk behind a bus or in front where a driver cannot see, and check to see that no traffic is coming if crossing the street.
• Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before stepping off or on.
• Do not move around.
• Try to never wait alone.
Walking and bicycling
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says around 15 percent of students walk or bicycle to or from school. That percentage is higher in less urban areas.
• Wear a helmet and use hand signals; respect traffic laws and ride on the right-hand side of the street in the same direction as traffic.
• Walkers should have a planned route and follow sidewalks or paths if they exist.
• Look both ways before crossing the street, and only cross when clear.
• Walk with a buddy if possible. With younger students, try what the
American Academy of Pediatrics calls a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children to and from school.
• Avoid interaction with strangers.
• Stay clear of vacant lots, fields, and construction sites.
The vast majority of children come from families where both parents work outside the home. If children are staying home alone after school, it is crucial to:
• Create a password for family or trusted adults to use when picking your child up from school or in the home when you are not there.
• Make sure children always have access to parent contact information and know what to do in an emergency; laminated cards are a great idea for younger children.
• Keep doors locked at all times.
• Never answer the door to a stranger, even one who is in uniform; refrain from allowing familiar adults into the home when alone and when they’re not expected.
• Avoid answering unnecessary phone calls and never tell callers they are home alone. Children should say their parent can’t come to the phone right now and take a message.
Adults and children also can make this school year a safe one by using SAFE-CALL, the nation’s first statewide school safety hotline. Citizens can make anonymous calls to the toll-free line 24 hours a day, 365 days each year to report any potential dangers to students or unsafe conditions at schools. The hotline is 1 (877) SAFE-CALL, extension OK1 (or 1-877-723-3225, ext. 651).
Let’s help make this year a safe and happy one for boys and girls!