Back to School Safety

It’s that time again – time to head back to the classroom and begin a new school year. You’ve just spent a couple of months relaxing, working, and hanging out with friends. It’s normal to get out of sync with some of your school year habits during the summer months, but that can lead to increased safety risks. When you head back to school in a couple of weeks, there are some important things you should keep in mind.

Driving to School

If you drive to school, remember to respect school zones and be alert. Young children are also heading back to school and they might not be as safety conscious as you are. Here are some things to remember as you are driving to school:

  • Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic.
  • Yield to pedestrians crossing a crosswalk or intersection.
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
  • Never pass a school bus from behind, or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road, if it is stopped to load or unload children.
  • If the lights on a school bus are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.

Walking

It’s also important that you take responsibility for your own safety as a pedestrian when you are walking to or from school or wandering the area at lunchtime. It’s easy to become distracted when you’re chatting with friends, some of whom you may not have seen for a while. Make sure you look where you’re going and never cross a street without being aware. If you’re walking around with earphones in, it’s doubly important to keep your head up and be visually aware of your surroundings.

Other Hazards

There are some other hazards that a new school year brings. Here are some additional things to consider in order to keep yourself safe from harm:

  • Use a good quality backpack and don’t overload it – carrying around too much weight can put a lot of strain on your back and shoulders.
  • Keep your locker organized, with heavier items near the bottom, to avoid objects falling on you.
  • Don’t overwork yourself. Many teens hold part time jobs throughout the school year and/or participate in extra curricular activities. These are both great ways to build your confidence and develop important life skills, but doing too much can lead to fatigue and cause you to burn out. Going to school, sports or work tired can be dangerous. It may be necessary to pare down your activities to a more manageable schedule.
  • Take care of your mental health. Stretching yourself too thin with activities is important to avoid, but there are many other issues you should look out for in safeguarding your mental health. Mental health issues are painful in their own right, but they can also lead to physical injuries by causing you to be less engaged with your surroundings and less motivated to take extra steps to ensure your safety. Fatigue is also a common symptom of many mental health issues. You may find it helpful to keep a journal and use it to track your moods, energy levels and any changes in interests or motivation.