Tips to Keep Your Child Safe at The Bus Stop & on The Bus
You’ve had an enjoyable summer with your kids but now it’s back to school time. Most parents are buying school supplies, getting school clothes sorted out and thinking about new teachers, classes, friends, grades, peer pressure and all sorts of things relating to your children heading back to school.
But, have you thought about their safety on the way to school? Many children ride off to school on buses or other means of public transportation. What can you do as a parent to help your kids stay safe when they are riding the bus? Let’s cover a few ways to keep your child safer on the way to school.
Teach Your Children to be Aware of Their Surroundings
Awareness is the first step for safety in any situation, and riding public transportation is no exception. Teach your child to be watchful of traffic, weather, people and strange or scary behavior. Make sure your child understands that they must not make assumptions. For instance, crosswalks are not a guaranteed safe place. There are irresponsible drivers on the road at all times of the day. Teach your child that even if a cross walk sign says WALK, look both ways before they step into the street. Safety first rules apply at the bus stop and on the bus just as surely as they apply everywhere else in your child’s day.
Make the Bus Stop as Safe as Possible
If it’s dark when your children wait for the bus then you will want to make sure the bus stop has proper lighting. You can give your children flashlights to keep in their backpacks to use whenever they need it. Also be sure the area is free of harmful items such as barbed wire or broken glass. The bus stop should be cleared of ice and snow in the winter months. If your child uses school or public provided transportation and you feel the bus stop is unsuitable, call your transportation office. Tell your children to watch for any people who appear at the bus stop for no apparent reason and be sure to tell you about it right away. When you have any concerns, go with your child to the bus stop and see for yourself.
Dress Your Children in Bright Colored Outerwear
Put reflective tape on your child’s jackets, coats, snowsuits, backpacks, or any other items they carry. You want you children to stand out as much as possible to help drivers see them. You can also buy backpacks, outerwear and shoes with built-in reflective strips. These items are a great idea if your children spend any time waiting for a bus. Remind your children that even with this reflective gear that drivers may not see them on the side of the road or at the bus stop due to light shining in their eyes or other distractions. Remind your children that it is important for them to stand where it’s safe, off the road and on the sidewalk, well away from the vehicles.
Teach Your Child the Rules for No Seat Belts
Public transportation and school buses are not required to have seat belts so you need to go over the basic rules and discuss anything your child needs to know to stay safe in their seat on the bus. Key points to go over with your child:
- Remain in their seats and sitting quietly
- Remain in your seat until the bus is fully stopped
- Sit in your seat facing forward
- Don’t change seats while the bus is moving
- Learn where the emergency exits are on the bus
Don’t assume your child knows the rules.
Proper Ways to Exit the Bus
You would think that exiting a school bus would be simple, but kids can get hurt if exiting isn’t done properly. Pushing and shoving can result in injuries. Teach your children to be calm and patient. If that means being the last to exit the bus to avoid the pushing and shoving matches, then that’s okay. Once off the bus, the driver will give the children the go ahead signal if they need to cross the road. Tell your children to pay attention to the bus driver or crossing guard and walk away from the bus when signaled to do so. There must be absolutely no walking or standing or playing around the bus. These rules are simple, but when they are not followed, kids get hurt.
Kids get distracted going to and from school. They have classes to hurry to, friends to visit and homework to think about, just to name a few things on their mind. It’s up to you as a parent to remind your children that safety is a real issue to think about and talk over. Discuss the bus stop and the bus itself with your children. Make unannounced visits to your children’s bus stop. Introduce yourself to the bus driver. Get familiar with this part of your children’s day to ensure that your children are in the safest situation possible so everyone can relax and enjoy the return to school.
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