As the school year comes into bloom, we take the yearly journey into new schools, classes, and routines. This year may be the first that your kids forego the bus, stay after school for activities, or even go home alone. From preschool to college, safety is a constant need. We’ve partnered with Rayovac to bring you 7 safety risks and solutions.
First up is the universal need for backpacks. Kids are increasingly required to carry text books and notebooks to and from school. Do keep in mind that backpacks, when overloaded, can cause physical discomfort or injury. Make sure your kids’ backpacks are the right size, and not overloaded.
Solution: The right backpack for your kid. A backpack shouldn’t hang lower than a few inches below their back. If your kid’s bag is low, adjust the straps to bring the load up. If you can’t bring it high enough, it’s time to consider a new pack. The weight shouldn’t be more than 10-20% of their body weight. If your 80-pound kid is carrying 25 pounds of books, they may strain their back or just plain lose their balance. Look out for backpacks that have a cross-torso strap connecting the two shoulder straps, to help center the weight.
Everyone has to go somewhere eventually. Kids are often at risks near bus stops and close to the school when they’re likely to feel comfortable. Kids in a rush to get to the bus on time may not pay close enough attention to hazards. Kids walking home may be walking away from the sun, making them difficult to see for drivers. Dozens of kids are injured in these circumstances every year.
Solution: The first step is to make sure kids are easy to see. A bright hat, shoes, jacket, or backpack can make all the difference in the world. If your kid is reluctant to replace their bag, you can attach reflective strips. If they ask for obnoxiously bright shoes, get them. You might not like the particular shade of neon orange or green, but increased visibility is vital. Spend some time with your kids discussing bus stop etiquette, and becoming familiar with safe crosswalks and intersections.
Intimately related to pedestrian safety is media safety. From texting to music, kids are understandably enraptured by their devices. Make sure your kids understand the dangers presented to the oblivious. After all, catching that Dragonite might make your kid’s day, but it also may prompt them to enter an unsafe area.
Solution: Teach your kids how to use their devices safely and appropriately. If your kid has to catch that elusive Pokemon, they should first make sure they are in a safe area, then stop walking. It’s important to remain stationary in a safe location. Walking with their face on their phone is a lightning-fast journey into the danger zone. Same thing applies for text messages. The few seconds spent on safety are worth the investment. If they’re in too much of a hurry to stop to text, they shouldn’t be checking their phone. They’re distracted enough. Kids with iPods and MP3 players should also keep in mind that headphones cloud their awareness, and should be avoided while travelling.
Kids travelling by themselves for the first time are at the greatest risk for inappropriate contact from strangers. Every 40 seconds a child in the US is reported as missing or abducted. That’s a staggering 788,400 kids every year. Most cases are resolved within hours, thankfully, but it would be better if they were never missing in the first place, yes?
Solution: Rayovac has released a new product called Power Protect. This item serves three purposes. It features a flashlight, a portable charger, and a personal alarm, all in one sleek design. Keeping a phone charged means that kids who are lost or delayed can communicate with their adults. The flashlight is great for kids who have late after-school activities, especially on shorter winter days. The alarm is extremely easy to use. Simply pull the ring, and a terrifying blast of 100-decible warning sound erupts. The siren can be heard up to 200 yards away. That’s two football fields. The one time I was brave enough to test it, I felt as if I’d been assaulted by the Black Canary. No need for screaming or fighting, just a clear and undeniable expression of danger.
Parents and kids who embark on the latchkey adventure have a lot to worry about. Whether they ride the bus, carpool, or walk, the latchkey kid is the ultimate responsible party for their safety until their parents join them at home. The dangers posed have led to various campaigns including the “Do you know where your children are?” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_you_know_where_your_children_are campaign and state and local laws restrict which ages can be latchkey kids. It’s critical kids and parents understand best practices when making this transition.
Solution: To pre-empt issues, establish clear roles and expectations. Start by going over the route that your youngster will be taking. Stress the importance of taking the same route every day. If nothing else, the kid will never have to wing it, possibly being lost or accosted. Try to create a route that has lots of visibility, and few “shortcuts.” Make sure your kid can find their keys easily, but don’t label them. Use key coats to mark their keys. Because kids will be carrying the keys in their backpack, don’t put your home address in their bag. Instead, put their name and the address of the school inside, so the bag can be returned without someone having access to both your keys and your address.
Despite our best efforts, kids can (and do) get hurt. If kids are hurt and taken to the hospital, the hospital often cannot act without parental permission. If a kid is not awake, the hospital won’t know about allergies or medical preferences. Preparation is vital in this matter.
Solution: Keep your kid’s ID updated with a recent photo. Schools don’t always issue new student IDs at the beginning of the school year, so take a moment to make sure their picture reflects their appearance. Take the time to fill out an Emergency Information Medical Wallet Card. These feature places to list medications, allergies, emergency contact info, and other vital info. Also take a moment to make sure your kid’s immunizations are current, and clearly recorded with the school and their doctor’s office.
Foul weather can take its toll quickly on kids. From sunburns to frostbite, the weather can cause fast and lasting damage. Kids who are unprepared are at risk of any number of maladies including the flu and pneumonia.
Solution: Make sure your kids are prepared for adverse weather ahead of time. Make sure your kid has a great rain coat, water-hardy shoes, an umbrella, and a back-up ride, if needed. If, like my son, your kid hates all kinds of shoes more complicated than flip-flops, encourage them to take their flip-flops in their backpack, if needed. That way they can change into more comfortable shoes when they get to school.
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments!
Disclaimer: Rayovac sponsored this post, but the opinions and specific products were chosen by the author.