Back to School – Time to SLOW DOWN!

By Jody Weyers, Director of Communications

busIt is back to school today for most students and it is a good reminder for everyone on the roads to remember to SLOW DOWN! In my commute to work, I pass two school zone.  Do you know what the speed limit is in a school zone?   15 MPH!!!  yes, 15!!!

Some students may also be riding the bus for the first time. If they are a first time rider, or a rider for many years, it is always good to go over school bus safety tips with your child and this is a good time for all motorist to brush up on their bus safety tips.

Bus Safety

If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Other safety steps for students include:

  • Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed you to get on.
  • Only board your bus and never an alternate one.
  • Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  • Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.

Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean:

  • Yellow flashing lights — the bus is getting ready to stop, and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign — the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.

For additional safety tip information, go to www.redcross.org

Back to School 101: Be Prepared

A new school year is a fresh start for both kids and parents. And it’s the perfect time to make sure the whole family is prepared for emergencies and other unexpected events.

Has your family talked about what you would do in a disaster or emergency situation? Planning will give everyone some peace of mind, and will help ease those “what if?” worries.  

Get a Kit
Put together a disaster supplies kit, and involve your kids in the process. Download a list of supplies you should have and assemble them together.

Make a Plan
Sit down with your family and discuss what you would do in an emergency:

  • Decide how you would reach other family members and where to meet if they can’t return home.
  • Designate an out-of-area relative or friend as an emergency contact and make sure all household members know how to contact this person.
  • Make an evacuation plan by choosing two meeting places: one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
  • Decide where you would go and what route you would take if you had to evacuate. Make sure to also plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of “pet friendly” motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

Be Informed
What kind of emergencies or natural disasters are most common in your area? Take time to learn about these events with your children so that your whole family knows what to expect and how to prepare.

Print out emergency contact cards for each member of your family, and have them carry the card with them at all times in case of a disaster or other emergency.

Additional Tips for Kids in School
Disasters and emergencies can happen at any time. It’s important to be prepared in case one occurs while your child is in school.

  • When the new school year begins, talk to your child’s teacher or school principal about the school’s emergency plan.
  • Remind your child that the most important thing they can do if an emergency happens at school is to stay calm and listen to the direction of their teachers or principal.
  • Tape a copy of your family’s contact numbers and meeting place(s) to the inside of your child’s binder or homework notebook and in their book bag.

To get further prepared, take a Red Cross course—every year, millions of people learn how to help their families, coworkers and neighbors with first aid and CPR/AED training.  

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

Back to School: Travel Safely

Commuting and Travel Safety Tips for Parents and Students
Written by Katie Lawson, Staff Writer, Redcross.org

As summer vacations come to an end, students across the country are readying themselves for the start of a new school year. With all of the excitement this time brings, safety may not be the first subject that springs to mind. The American Red Cross encourages parents to take time to talk with their children about safety before school starts.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 24 million students nationwide start their school day with a trip on the school bus. Although NHTSA reports that riding on a school bus is nearly eight times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle, an average of 11 school-aged pedestrians are killed by school transportation vehicles each year. Whether they walk, ride the bus or travel by car, teach your kids these few tips to ensure they get to and from school safely.

Tips for School Bus Riders

  • Line up facing the bus, not along side it.
  • Do not play in the street while waiting for the bus.
  • Carry all loose belongings in a bag or backpack.
  • Never reach under the school bus to get anything that has rolled or fallen beneath it.
    The bus driver may be sitting too high up to see you.
  • After getting off the bus, move immediately onto the sidewalk and out of traffic.
    If there is no sidewalk, try to stay as far to the side of the road as possible.
  • Wait for a signal from the bus driver before crossing the street.
    Walk at least 10 steps away from the front of the bus so the driver can see you.Never cross the street or play behind the school bus.

Tips for Pedestrians or Bike Riders

  • Never walk alone—always travel with a buddy.
  • Pay attention to all traffic signals and crossing guards along the way.
  • Never cross the street against a stop light. Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
  • Avoid ill-fitting clothing that could get caught in spokes or pedals or restrict movements, and wear reflective colors and material to be more visible to street traffic.
  • Walk your bicycle across all intersections.

Tips for Car Drivers and Passengers

  • Everyone in the car should wear a seatbelt, as they lower the risk of injury in the event of a crash by 45 percent.
  • Make sure babies and young children are in safety seats at all times, and that safety seats have been properly installed.
  • Read your car’s manual for safety precautions specifically relate to the car and its airbags.
  • Remind teenagers to take extra precautions if they are driving to school or riding with another teenage driver.

Tips for College-Bound Students

  • Students heading off to college—perhaps for the first time this year—may be inexperienced at driving long distances or driving alone. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, according to NHTSA. The risk of crashes is higher among 16- to 20-year-olds than among any other age group, and, unfortunately, young adults also are less likely to be buckled up than any other age group.

When preparing college-aged children for a long drive to school, make sure they take these precautions:

Preparing for the Trip

  • Before packing the car, do a simple safety check. Turn on the lights and walk around the vehicle to ensure that all lights are in working order. Also check turn signals and look for any fluid leaks or things hanging from the vehicle. Make sure the tires are properly inflated.
  • When packing your belongings in the car, make sure you pack carefully so there is nothing blocking your view through the rear window. Check your mirrors before you leave to be sure you have an unobstructed view of the road.
  • Prepare an emergency supplies kit for your vehicle and keep it in your car at all times. Include a first aid kit and manual as well as items such as a blanket, flares, a flashlight and batteries, jumper cables that can be helpful and may even be lifesaving in the event of an emergency.
  • No matter how far your trip is, be sure you are well rested before you hit the road.

Hitting the Road

  • Leave early and give yourself enough time to travel at a comfortable pace. Remember, speeding does not increase your ability to arrive on time; it only increases your chances of not arriving at all.
  • Should you find yourself getting tired from the drive, pull over to a rest stop or gas station to walk around and refresh yourself.
  • Do not talk on your cell phone while driving. Phones are distracting and impair your ability to concentrate on the road. If you must use the phone, pull over to a safe, well-lit parking lot and place your call there or at least use a hands-free earpiece.
  • When driving in inclement weather such as rain storms, reduce your speed. Don’t make sudden moves if the roads are wet. Applying the brakes slowly and steadily will help you keep better control of your vehicle.
  • And, remember to always wear your safety belt and require any passengers who ride with you to do the same.

For more information about preparing for emergencies or for facts and tips about safety, visit RedCross.org.