Safety reminders to heed with school’s return

Most Snohomish County schools go back in session next week.

That means children and grown-ups need to brush up on their safety know-how.

Drivers should know when to expect traffic backups around schools, Everett police officer Aaron Snell said.

Drivers who don’t have children likely want to avoid those areas during drop-off and pick-up times.

“It’ll probably save you some time,” Snell said.

Parents who plan to drive their children to school need to follow school-specific rules for drop-off and pick-up, Snell said.

Schools work closely with police to design traffic flows around campuses to avoid major backups, Edmonds School District spokeswoman DJ Jakala said. Parents can help by following signs and only stopping in approved areas.

Parents should not block people’s driveways, and they should respect neighbors’ property, Snell said.

People also are reminded to make their children wear seat belts, and use car seats when appropriate. Wearing a backpack while wearing a seat belt increases a child’s chance of serious injuries in a collision, officials said.

Children who are walking or biking to school also need extra attention, Snell said.

Parents should check with their schools to see if they have “walking school buses” — organized groups of children who walk to school together, often alongside a responsible grown-up.

Parents need to take their children through at least one practice trip to school and back before the first day to make sure it’s safe, Snell said.

“Talk with them about the safety hazards along the way,” he said.

Children can get comfortable with their route and stop paying attention to safety and likely need refresher courses throughout the year, Snell said.

Everett police officers often plan extra patrols as school starts, looking for people speeding or using their cell phones in school zones, he said. Parents also should not jaywalk with the children, or they could be cited.

Getting to school and back isn’t the only thing to worry about.

Many schools have policies banning or limiting the use of personal electronics on school property, Snell said.

Children are best off not bringing cellphones, music players and other electronics to school, and if they must, they should keep them in a safe place and out of sight, Snell said.

“It’s too easy to lose, sometimes things are stolen, or they’re just misplaced, and then there’s just a hassle and a problem, and people are out their money,” he said.

Now’s also the perfect time to start planning your children’s lunches and get them into an earlier bedtime routine, Jakala said.

That way, they’re all ready to go.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

Street safety

Children should cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10.

Wear bright colors.

Know drivers can’t see you. Don’t dart out between cars.

Use crosswalks. Before crossing, look left, right and left again. Walk the bike across the street.

Younger children should bike on the sidewalk or in the bike lane, facing traffic.

Wear an appropriate helmet.

Avoid strangers.

Bikes should have reflective lights.

Stick together. Try to travel with a buddy or in a group.

No texting or listening to headphones while walking or biking.

General tips

Grown-ups have to behave at sporting events at schools, too.

Know how your child’s school communicates during lockdowns, and make sure you will receive those messages. Remember, most lockdowns are just precautionary measures because of police activity in the neighborhood and are not actual emergencies at the school.

Check the dress code, which can vary by school. Clothing shouldn’t interfere with learning.

Know the school bus routes, which may have changed from last year.

Be aware of children’s use of social media, especially with the possibility of cyberbullying.

For information about car seat and seat belt safety, go to www.safekids.org.

Learn about children, teenagers and Internet safety at www.netsmartz.org/Parents.

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