When someone brings up the topic of school safety these days, it seems like the recent surge in violence (gun violence, in particular) at schools dominates the discussion, and while this is an important topic that we will discuss, it’s not the most likely of occurrences.

What the research shows is that children at school are actually 9 times more likely to suffer an accidental injury (whether on the playground or in school) than to be a victim of gun violence on a school campus. In fact, every year an estimated 2.2 million children aged 14 and under are injured in school-related accidents, the majority of which are sports related.

Many of these accidents can be prevented if parents make themselves aware of and stay on the lookout for potential hazards and make sure their children are taught some common-sense safety tips, as well as some you may not have thought about. 

To help you keep your kids safe this school year, here are some things to keep in mind:

Backpacks

Carrying a heavy backpack is a common problem these days, and an overloaded pack can lead to back, neck and shoulder pain, poor posture, and more. That’s why choosing the right backpack for your child is such an important decision. A good backpack should be ergonomically designed to enhance safety and comfort.

Some other tips for backpacks:

  • Make sure your children use both straps when wearing their backpack so that the weight is evenly distributed on their back and shoulders.
  • Don’t overstuff a backpack. Packs should weigh no more than 5-10% of your child’s bodyweight.
  • Periodically pick up your child’s pack and test its weight.
  • Rolling backpacks can create a trip hazard in crowded school hallways, so avoid one unless it’s absolutely necessary. 

Playgrounds and Sports

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year more than 200,000 children aged 14 and younger wind up in emergency departments with injuries caused by playground equipment. More worrying, up to 10% of these accidents involve falls which lead to traumatic brain injuries, including concussions.

Make sure your children know to: 

  • Sit down on swings and slow down before getting off. 
  • Avoid pushing or shoving. 
  • Use both hands when climbing.
  • Avoid climbing on wet equipment that could be slippery and cause an accident.
  • Never climb up the front of slides. 
  • Avoid walking in front of swings. 
  • Avoid broken equipment. Children need to be aware that they should never play on broken equipment, and that they should let an adult know when something is broken.

Back to School Means Sharing the Road

School days bring traffic congestion. School buses are picking up their passengers, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school, and parents are trying to drop them off and get to work. That’s why it’s so important that drivers slow down and pay attention when children are present – especially before and after school.

Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians

According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are between 4-7 years old, and they’re hit by the bus or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. 

A few precautions can go a long way toward keeping children safe. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Never block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. This forces pedestrians to go around you and could put them in the path of moving traffic.
  • If you are in a school zone and flashers are blinking, you have a legal obligation to stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the 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 honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
  • Never pass a vehicle that has stopped for pedestrians.

Sharing the Road with School Buses

You should always allow a greater distance If you’re driving behind a school bus than if you were driving behind a car. This will give you more time to stop if the yellow lights start flashing. Passing a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children is illegal in all 50 states.

  • Never pass a 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 yellow or red lights on the 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. Always stop far enough back to allow them enough space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Stay alert. Children are often unpredictable and tend to ignore hazards.

School Shootings

With over 250 mass shootings recorded so far in 2019 alone, it’s something that you should discuss with the entire family. Participating in active shooter training is very helpful, as it not only prepares you for the worst, it can also take some pressure of your mind knowing you, your family, and any loved ones are prepared for this kind of situation.

It is important to sit down with everyone in your family and formulate a plan to make sure that each person knows what they would do if confronted with an active shooter. The following are some recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security of actions you should consider in an active shooter situation.

During an event:

  • RUN and escape whenever possible.
  • Getting away from the shooter or shooters is the top priority.
  • Leave your belongings behind and get away.
  • Help others escape, if possible, but evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
  • Warn and prevent others from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
  • Call 911 when you are safe. Describe the shooter, location, and weapons.
  • HIDE if escape is not possible.
  • Get out of the shooter’s view and stay very quiet.
  • Silence all electronic devices and make sure they won’t vibrate.
  • Lock and block doors, close blinds, and turn off lights. 
  • Don’t hide in groups, it’s safer to spread out along walls or hide separately.
  • Try to communicate with police silently. Use text messaging or social media to tag your location or put a sign in a window.
  • Stay in place until law enforcement gives you the all clear.
  • Your hiding place should be out of the shooter’s view and provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
  • FIGHT as an absolute last resort.
  • Commit to your actions and act as aggressively as possible against the shooter.
  • Recruit others to ambush the shooter with makeshift weapons like chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, books, etc.
  • Be prepared to cause severe or lethal injury to the shooter.

After an event:

  • Keep your hands visible and empty.
  • Know that law enforcement’s first task is to end the incident, and they may have to pass injured along the way.
  • Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, and/or handguns and may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.
  • Officers will shout commands and may push individuals to the ground for their safety.
  • Follow instructions from law enforcement and evacuate in the direction they come from, unless otherwise instructed.
  • Take care of yourself first, and then you may be able to help the wounded before first responders arrive.
  • If the injured are in immediate danger, help get them to safety.
  • While you wait for first responders to arrive, provide first aid. Apply direct pressure to wounded areas and use tourniquets if you have been trained to do so.
  • Turn wounded people onto their sides if they are unconscious and keep them warm.

Consider seeking professional help for yourself and your family to help cope with the long-term effects of the trauma. For more information on active shooter situations and much more, visit Ready.gov.

We are Here to Help

At GreeningLaw P.C., we understand that the start of the school year can be overwhelming for parents and children. Fortunately, the above tips can greatly decrease your child’s chances of an accident or injury at school and on the playground.

That being said, it’s important to remember that even if you as a parent do everything right, accidents can still happen, and things can still go wrong due to the carelessness and/or negligence of others.

Don’t take it upon yourself to determine if an injury to your child could have been prevented. GreeningLaw P.C.’s skilled attorneys and investigators work diligently to determine what really happened and identify any parties who may be liable.

GreeningLaw P.C is recognized as one of the leading personal injury law firms in Texas for a reason, and we are here for families in these times of need. We offer free consultations in which we review all the elements of your case, discuss any possible compensation, and recommend the best course of action.

Call 972.934.8900 or schedule a free consultation online today and let us handle your case so you can go back to focusing on the things that matter most to you.

We fight the legal battle so that you have time for healing and renewal, and we want to wish everyone a happy new school year!  At GreeningLaw, we will help you get through this.

Sources:

1. Active Shooter. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2019, from https://www.ready.gov/active-shooter 

2. Safety at Home. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2019, from https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/seasonal-safety/back-to-school/drivers