August 2008 

In The Neighborhood

Back-To-School Safety

In just a few days, many of our valley’s children will go back to school. With more children, cars, bicycles and school buses on our valley roadways, it’s a great time for everyone to review some basic school safety tips. In addition to safety tips regarding school zones, bicycle use and school buses, you’ll also find information for properly packing a lunch and choosing the right backpack.

Another helpful tool to consult is the city’s list of suggested school routes. The city’s Public Works Department has developed suggested routes for children traveling to and from elementary schools within the city limits. The map for each school includes the preferred route, school zones, crosswalks and traffic signals. They can be found on the city’s Web site.

School Gear

  • Buy an appropriate-size backpack, one that ends just a few inches above the waist. It should have wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student's body weight.
  • Make sure your kids bend their knees when they first lift their packs, to avoid further strain on their back muscles.
  • Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
  • Consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried up stairs.


  • Use an insulated lunch box or bag. Include a refreezable ice pack to keep cold foods at the right temperature.
  • Use insulated containers for hot food like soup.
  • Do not reuse all packages and paper bags. This will help to avoid the contamination of other food that may cause food foodborne illness.
    School Bus Safety
  • Have a safe place to wait for the bus.
  • Use the handrail to enter and exit the bus.
  • Do not approach the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals to approach the vehicle.
  • Follow the directions of school crossing guards and traffic signals.
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from the school bus and never cross in back of it. Make sure the driver can see you when walking near a bus.
  • Never accept a ride from a stranger.
  • Remain seated on the bus until you have reached your destination and never place your head, arms or hands outside the bus.
  • When crossing the street once you have arrived at your destination, make sure to look left, right and left again.
  • Inspect clothing for long drawstrings. These can get trapped in school bus doors.

Bike Safety

  • Always wear a safety helmet and other protective gear when riding your bike.
  • Walk your bike across the crosswalk. Do not ride through the crosswalk.
  • Ride with the flow of traffic.
  • Master bicycle hand signals.
  • Wear reflective clothing.
  • Check clothing for hanging items that could get caught in a bicycle chain.
    School Zone Safety
  • Give yourself extra time. With school zones in effect, you may need a few extra minutes for morning and afternoon commutes.
  • Slow down and follow posted speed limits.
  • Don’t pass another vehicle in a school zone.
  • Scan between parked cars and other objects for children who might dart in front of your car.
  • Follow the lead of school crossing guards in the area.
  • Avoid potential distractions such as cell phones.
  • Report those who create a hazardous situation in and around school zones.
  • Be patient and courteous.

Latchkey Kids

  • Make sure your child understands the importance of keeping doors shut and locked.
  • Set a time for your child to call and check-in. Allow for a variance that takes into account late buses, etc.
  • Instruct your children to never tell someone on the phone that there are no adults at home. Teach them to say that you can’t come to the phone right now.
  • Post a list of emergency phone numbers near the phone.
  • Set up rules on what kind of food they can fix. Younger children should never use the stove without adult supervision.

For more back-to-school tips, please visit the following Web sites:
University of Nevada Cooperative Extenstion
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  
National Safety Council  

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