Back-to-School Safety Checklist

Today is the first day of the 2015-2016 school year for many families. Parents and their kids have readied backpacks, double-checked schedules and bought some, if not all, back-to-school supplies.

But many parents may not have included emergency plans on their back-to-school checklist. Parents can prevent or ease potential health and safety issues by taking simple steps, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Consider this: How would you reunite with your child if there were an emergency during the school day? The CDC urges parents to talk to school administrators to find out how the school would notify you in the event of an emergency.

Early Pickup and Home Delivery

“Talk to your kids about what to do in situations where they may have to use alternative means to get home or may have to be picked-up early by a neighbor or family friend,” the CDC says.

The agency urges parents to determine which person would pick up their child if the student needed be picked up early, or if a parent were unable to get to the school. Let your child know the people who would pick them up in these situations.

These recommendations are especially important if your child is going to a new school. He or she is probably already nervous about meeting new classmates and getting familiar with new surroundings.

New Peer Interactions

“It is normal for kids to feel nervous about the first day at a new school,” explains psychologist Regina Mendoza, Psy.D., a member of Baptist Health Quality Network. “They are anxious about the unknown. They are scared that they will feel alone.”

Role-playing social situations helps children handle new peer interactions, she said.

“Reviewing conversation starters and how to engage others will help them feel more confident and comfortable,” Dr. Mendoza said. “Kids need to be reminded that sitting next to someone they don’t know is an opportunity to make friends, not something scary.”

CDC Safety Guidelines

Whether it’s a new school or the same one, the CDC offers these safety recommendations to parents:

Update emergency contact information: Schools often collect parent and emergency contact information when a student first enrolls at the school. Even one year later this contact information may no longer be accurate and up-to-date. Changes to your office, name, address or phone number should be reported to the school to ensure that they have the most accurate information to reach you during an emergency.

Backpack Emergency Card: Make an emergency card for your child to keep in their backpack. Include important personal information about your child, like their name, school, contact information, date of birth and any medical conditions, such as allergies. On the backside of the card, include contact information for yourself and an additional emergency contact.

Have your child memorize important addresses and phone numbers: In some emergency situations, schools may not be able to access emergency contact files. Make sure your child has certain contact numbers and addresses memorized in case they need to use them during an emergency. Kids should know their home address and at least two emergency contact numbers that they can call.

See other back-to-school articles:

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