Our school-bus fears usually focus on images of some horrible wreck. But children are most likely to get hurt during routine pickup and drop-off, when they're in the "danger zone" -- the area inside a 10-foot radius around the bus, in which small children often become invisible to both the driver and approaching motorists. It's here that kids crossing the street are hit by motorists who illegally pass a stopped bus, or youngsters darting in front of, next to, behind, or even under the bus are inadvertently struck by their own driver. The following tips will help ensure your child's safety.
Safety Tips to Teach Your Kids
- Wait for the bus on the sidewalk, not in the street.
- While waiting, pay close attention and don't fool around with your friends.Wait until the bus has stopped and the door has opened before stepping off the curb. Always stay away from the wheels. Remember: Just because you can see the bus does not mean that the driver can see you.
- While riding the bus, stay seated, face forward, keep the aisles clear, and keep your head and arms inside the vehicle. Always obey the driver's instructions.
- Gather your belongings before you reach your school or stop. Use the handrail while exiting, and be careful of backpacks and other things that dangle.
- When you get off, take five giant steps away from the bus, out of the danger zone.
- Never run back to retrieve a forgotten item or to pick up something you've dropped near or under the bus.
How to Help Protect Your Child
- Assure your child that you won't be upset if he doesn't retrieve a jacket or backpack left on the bus or schoolwork dropped under a wheel.
- Remove or cut off loose drawstrings hanging from your child's clothing or coat. Check her backpack for key chains and other dangling objects that might get caught in a door or handrail.
- Make a point of meeting your child's bus driver. Ask about emergency evacuation procedures and whether there's a fire extinguisher on board. Make sure your child carries a "contact in case of emergency" card with information about allergies and medications. (Even if the driver knows that information, a substitute may not.)
- Urge your school to set up bus-safety education classes for kids, including at least two evacuation drills per year.
- Consider organizing a local bus-safety program. Parents in Chappaqua, NY, working with their school district and bus company, fashioned a program that includes volunteer adult bus-stop monitors and year-round bus-safety education.
- Arrive five minutes before the bus is supposed to get there. Many children are injured as they run to catch up with a moving school bus.
- If your child has to meet the bus when it is dark or at dusk, have him wear bright or reflective clothing.
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