The summer is coming to a close and the Clayton Fire Department would like to remind you to take the time to review these Back to School Safety Tips with your young learners:
- When packing or planning your child’s lunch, be cognizant of their classmates potential allergies. The source www.foodallergy.org reports that nearly 5.9 million school age kids have food related allergies, that is 1 in 13 or on average 2 kids in each classroom. Eight major food allergens – milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish – are responsible for most of the serious food allergy reactions in the United States. Many schools have rules and regulations regarding the types of items that they allow to be brought into the cafeteria for these reasons. Please take the time to review these policies before planning to send such treats to school with your child.
- Be sure that your child has the proper backpack. Often times their school bag can be overloaded with large books, unnecessary supplies or bulky show and tell items. Increased reports of numbness and tingling, shoulder and back pain, and poor posture can be traced back to backpacks that are too heavy or not the correct size. The American Chiropractic Association recommends that your child’s backpack not weigh more than 10% of your child’s bodyweight. When choosing your child’s backpack for the school year consider an ergonomic design that is not wider or longer than their torso and never to extend more than 4 inches below their waistline. They should have multiple compartments in an effort to evenly distribute the weight and compression straps on the sides or bottom to stabilize the contents. For their comfort make sure that the back and shoulder straps are padded and they use the hip and chest belts to evenly transfer the weight to the hips and torso. Finally, be sure that the backpack is made of a reflective material so that they are easily seen early in the morning or on overcast days.
- Walking or riding their bikes to school can give your children a great feeling of independence, but it comes with increased responsibility as well. According to a study by Safekids.org, 61 children are hit by cars every day in the United States, most often during the hours before and after school, and peaking in September. And, there has been a noticeable demographic shift. It is now much more likely a teenager will be hit by a car than his younger counterpart. Much different from when we were younger, personal electronics and phones offer a new danger. Be sure your kids know not to text or talk while walking or riding their bikes, never cross the street while using electronic devices, and to never walk or ride their bike while listening to headphones. Also remind them to always use sidewalks when available and to cross only at crosswalks at the direction of the crossing guard or traffic signaling device. If walking, they should walk never run across intersections and always look both ways and not cross from in between parked cars or tall shrubs. If they choose to ride their bicycle, first check with the school to be sure that this is allowed as some schools do not allow students to ride bicycles until they reach a certain grade. They should always wear their helmet and always follow the rules of the road including knowing the appropriate hand signals. Finally, remind your children to never stop and talk to strangers along their route and to report any incident involving being approached by a stranger to an adult or parent.
- Some tips for the rest of us. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control states that the most common form of travel for school age kids from 5-14 years old is the family car. This means that on top of the increased pedestrian and bus traffic there will be more cars on the road going to the same places. As the protectors of our children, we need to be sure to follow some safety tips of our own including putting the phones away and not texting or talking while driving. When in school zones or residential areas in the mornings and afternoons we should watch out for kids and school crossing guards. Always stop for school busses when they are loading and unloading and yield to pedestrian traffic. When in school zones remember to monitor your speed, there is no passing, no changing lanes, and no u-turns.
It is our hope that these tips help get your kids off to another safe and happy school year. We look forward to coming to visit them at school with our mascot Blaze the first week of October for Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme is “Seconds Count” where we will be discussing exit drills in the home and planning to have two ways out of every room. We would also like you to stay on the lookout for dates for this years “Movie Nights at the Firehouse” on the City of Clayton website and Facebook page.
If you have any further questions about public education, fire, or life safety programs offered by the Clayton Fire Department, contact Captain Ryan Harrell at RHarrell@ClaytonMO.gov or call (314) 290-8485.