An estimated 51-million kids are going back to school this month or just after Labor Day, according to the National Center for Education Stats. Starting a new year of school is often both exciting and nerve-wracking for both kids and parents. In addition to soothing any nervousness on their part, you’ll also want to help keep your children safe by following these safety tips.

Getting to School

SafeKids Worldwide points out that every single day in the U.S., more than 40 kids get hit by a vehicle while walking – that’s 15,000 children a year. Teens are most at risk, with one hit by a vehicle every hour of every day.

Protect your children by making sure kids and teens are always aware of their surroundings, with no texting while walking allowed. Also, SafeKids emphasizes teaching children to use a cross walk; look left, right and then left again before and while crossing; and to make eye contact with drivers. Use sidewalks, not the road when walking; if a sidewalk isn’t available, then walk facing traffic. Be especially vigilant around parking lots and driveways.

The American Red Cross suggests that parents walk young kids to school for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Also, make arrangements for them to walk with a friend, sibling or classmate. Here’s how to tell if they’re ready to walk on their own.

If your kids ride the bus, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration suggests teaching kids to:

  • Stay five steps away from the curb
  • Always wait for the bus driver to tell you when to board.
  • Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
  • Exit the bus when it stops, look left-right-left, and take five steps away from the bus toward the curb.

Get additional bus safety tips.

When you drop off kids at school, the National Safety Council says:

  • Know your school’s drop-off and pick-up rules, since more children are hit by cars near schools than anywhere else.
  • Don't double park because it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
  • Don't load or unload children across the street from the school.
  • Carpool.

Teen Drivers
Every day in the U.S., six teens get killed in motor vehicle crashes, making it the leading cause of death for adolescents, SafeKids reports. Because of this, parents must set ground rules for younger drivers that includes developing plans for scenarios they may encounter, as well as zero-tolerance rules for driving, like no speeding, no alcohol and no texting.

SafeKids also suggests also that you limit the number of passengers allowed in the car with your teen, as the crash risk rises with more passengers. Additionally, make sure everyone buckles up, front seat and back, and be sure your teen gets at least 50 hours of practice (more if required by law) with an experienced driver before being allowed to drive on his/her own.

Preparations

In addition to these tips, you’ll want to get everyone ready for school with some general preparations around safety, backpacks, emergencies and screens.

Make sure your kids know your cellphone number, home address, how to get in touch you at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1, advises the American Red Cross. Also, teach kids not to talk to strangers or accept rides from people they don’t know.

In regard to backpacks, don’t overload them. They shouldn’t weigh more than 10 percent of your child’s weight. Get more tips here.

Monitor kids’ screen time, as well as the apps and activities on devices. Allow no screen time (aside from video chatting) for kids under 2, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics, limit time for kids 2 to 5 years old to one hour or less a day; for kids older than 6, place limits on screen time and ensure that it doesn’t take the place of sleep or exercise.

Finally, the American Red Cross advises knowing the school’s emergency plan, and then develop a family emergency plan so everyone will know who to contact and where to go if something happens during school hours.

All of these tips will help you keep your loved ones safe in the hustle and bustle of a new school year and beyond. You can get more great ideas and tips about healthy lunches, bullying and school sports here. Have a great school year!